God is the creator of the entire universe and all of us, by Christ, who is the Word of God (Eph. 3:19, John 1:1). The relationship of the created to the Creator, as was known throughout the ancient world before Christ, was one of awe, respect, worship, fear and submission. If one looks at the way gods were portrayed in the ancient world, we see mainly gods manipulating humans to the liking of the gods, as in the Iliad by the Greek poet Homer. We may see the gods bestowing favor to humans or even, in rare instance, inviting a human (or half-human and half-god) to their dinner banquet, as is the case of Tentalus, in the Greek myths. To my knowledge, we do not see a god leave heaven and condescend to be with man in order to be in intimate friendship with him. This only fully happened in the religious accounts of man in the gospels of the New Testament.
We get a premonition of this direction in Genesis in the Garden of Eden where God is described to be “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8), or when Abraham meets and hosts three angels in human form and one of the them turns out the be the “the Lord” (Gen. 18-19). Jesus Christ did that in a timeless way and this message was a surprise to the Greek world. The question that was asked by the Greeks is: “why would a god leave the comforts of their heavenly abode to be with man walking in the dirt of the earth and suffering the daily grind of life”. This was so puzzling that it seemed to lack wisdom to the Greeks. St. Paul pointed this out by writing “we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness…” (I Cor. 1:23). Christ showed unfathomable humility to do this: “But [Christ] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7).
Therefore it comes as a an even greater upset to the understanding of the world of the divine that the Creator of the Universe not only condescended to man to live with him but called on men to become His friend. This was foreshadowed with particular individuals in the Old Testament. First, Abraham was in an intimate relationship with God to the point of haggling with God about how many righteous people could be reduced in a city before God would act to destroy it. Abraham argued God down from 50 to 45 to 40 to 30 to 20 to 10! (Gen. 18:23-32). In that intimacy with God, Abraham was viewed by God as His friend: “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend” (Isaiah 41:8, II Chron. 20:7, James 2:23). Similarly, Moses the great prophet of Israel was considered such: “And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaks unto his friend” (Exodus 33:11).
The friendship to which God calls men to partake is unlike earthly friendships. It requires a deeper relationship with the Creator who made the nature of man: “You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (vs. 15). This sets up a strong contrast between this friendship and the opposite ways of the world: “You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Let us partake of the friendship that God offers us through obedience to His will, for only in this will we come to know the true nature of friendship with God and man.