Can We Be "Friends" with God? - Diana Butler Bass

Can We Be "Friends" with God? - Diana Butler Bass

Author and scholar Diana Butler Bass describes friendship with Jesus as something that—contrary to some popular opinion—is the mark of a mature faith. Friendship with God is at the heart of the biblical story:

The Bible tells a different story about friendship with God, especially in the Hebrew scriptures. Friendship is anything but immaturity; it is a gift of wisdom: “In every generation [wisdom] passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets” (Wisdom of Solomon 7:27). Two of Israel’s greatest heroes, Abraham, the father of faith, and Moses, the liberating prophet, are specifically called friends of God. In Isaiah 41:8, God refers to Abraham as “my friend,” a tradition that carries into the New Testament (James 2:23). Of Moses, Exodus says: “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (33:11), a very rare intimacy, for such close proximity to the divine usually meant death (33:20). . . .

The point is that friendship with God establishes the covenant—and that Israel is freed from bondage into a new family forged by friendship through the law given by Moses. Friendship with God is not a biblical side story; rather, it is central to the promises and faithfulness of being a called people, in which all are friends, companions, intimates, siblings, and beloved.

Early Christians, most of whom were Jews, knew all of this and extended the idea of divine friendship to Jesus. The New Testament vividly recounts the closeness of Jesus’s circle of friends, women and men transformed through their relationship with him. . . .

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