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How can I be friends with God?

Posted by Joshua Claycamp on

Recently, I began addressing the question of what it means to have a personal relationship with God, or, how can I be friends with God?

I’m not the only one asking this question. Tanya Luhrmann has a brief blurb over at The Huffington Post. She suggests that Evangelical Christians engaging in a friendship with God use their imagination. She comments,

“This does not mean that God is imaginary: the senses capture only the material world, not an immaterial one. It does mean that those who sought to use their imagination had to learn to take what they imagined seriously, and not treat it as ephemeral thought.”

I was puzzled by this digression into the use of imagination. As an evangelical Christian, I don’t consider my relationship with God to rely upon my imagination at all. However, Luhrmann further elaborates:

“It is important to recognize the trained imagination at work in evangelical prayer because otherwise this style of faith can seem incomprehensible, even foolish, to onlookers.”

As an individual who has never experienced a relationship with the real God of the universe, I think Luhrmann’s confusing faith with imagination.

A genuine friend is not someone or something that you imagine. Occasionally, young children will pretend that they have imaginary friends, but they always grow out of this as soon as real friends present themselves. After all, playing ball with someone who can actually hit the ball is way better than simply pretending that a person hit the ball as you throw it up in the air on your own and then attempt to catch the ball.

Having a personal relationship or friendship with God means more than having an imaginary friend. All of this begs the question:  how do we define friendship or personal relationship? While by no means comprehensive, the following represents what genuine friendship possesses at a minimum:

  1. Friendship consists of fond appreciation or attachment to another person.
  2. Friendship consists of common interests and shared values between yourself and another person.
  3. Friendship consists of mutual participation in activities and hobbies together.
  4. Friendship consists in the mutual dialogue, the back and forth of conversation, and sharing your inner thoughts with each other.

Luhrmann’s discussion appears to reduce friendship down to nothing but dialogue and this with a partner that doesn’t necessarily have an independent consciousness or a separate will from your own. How could such a friend ever help you? How could such a friend ever see anything outside of your own perspective and give you counsel? How could such a friend ever intervene and provide you with assistance? Such a friend could not.

In future posts, we’ll see that friendship with God, or having a personal relationship with God, includes all four of the elements mentioned above

Tags: personal relationship god, friend, friends god, god