Jesus seemed to use the term “friend” quite freely. When it was reported that Lazarus was in grave condition Jesus informed His disciples, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.” When Judas showed up to betray Jesus He asked, “Friend, why are you here?” Jesus called his apostles friends and He was called “friend of sinners,” Though Jesus used the term “friend” quite freely, it was never meant to be taken lightly. Friendship as defined in scripture transcends way beyond the casual. It seems that in Bible times the water of friendship was thicker than the blood of siblings. Solomon stated, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). He went on to say, “There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Lest you think the dear king was a jewel shy of a crown, remember it was Jesus who said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
There are only two Old Testament figures referred to in scripture as friends of God. One is Moses, the other is Abraham. When Jesus was called “friend of sinners,” the idea was that He had befriended some very messy people. No doubt He had! To be known as a “friend of God” suggests something different. With respect to Abraham and Moses, these two sinners had befriended the Lord! James explains in his epistle, “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (2:23). I find this absolutely refreshing. All it took for Father Abe to be a friend of God was belief. It wasn’t religious works or living a perfect life. Friendship with God was achieved through pure and simple faith. Abraham believed God’s promises and instantly became His bosom-buddy.
One thing about faith, it can’t sit still. It’s as though faith has legs. If we truly trust God, faith will carry us closer to Him. We clearly see this with Abraham. His was a pilgrimage marked by a trail of altars. Then there is Moses. While the rest of the Israelites were steered to a hand-carved calf, faith moved Moses into the presence of God. This took their relationship to a very deep and personal level. God and Moses connected and became close pals. The Lord has no problems whatsoever with befriending sinners. He’ll hang out with just about anybody. There isn’t some high standard we have to meet. There aren’t any hoops to jump through. A checkered past won’t disqualify anyone. The only criterion is faith. You must trust Him, that’s all. Believe in the Lord. Believe in His promises. Believe He rewards those who diligently seek after Him. And you too will be a friend of God.
From 'That I May Know You' 2008