In the movie I Am Legend, Will Smith plays a man who is the last person left on earth. He was somehow immune to a deadly virus that infected the rest of humanity. The only friend he has is a dog named Sam. He gets so lonely for human contact that he sets up a video store with mannequins all around it and talks to them as though they all know each other from the neighborhood. The emotional high point of the movie is when his dog dies and he’s left alone. He had been able to hold it together with one friend, but without company he starts to lose it.
Can you imagine only having one friend? I know someone for whom that was true. I first met Frank when somebody asked me, a pastor, to visit him; he was in jail for having shot his gun off while he was high on drugs and the police believed he was shooting at them. I’m the only person who visited him in jail, and I was the only person besides his sister who wrote to him when he got transferred to prison.
There’s a story in the Bible about a guy who lost all of his friends midway through his life. In the book of Exodus, we read about Moses, who grew up in Egypt in a palace as the son of the king’s daughter. As part of the royal family of the most powerful nation on earth, he got the best education and training available. But when he grew up, he realized that he wasn’t an Egyptian by birth. He was a Hebrew, whose mother had given him up for adoption to avoid his being killed.
But, the problem was that the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt. So, Moses made one of the bravest decisions of his life. He decided to leave the easy palace life and go and be mistreated with the Hebrews, his people.
At first, though, the Hebrews didn’t accept him, and Moses found himself all alone in the wilderness. But, God had His hand on Moses and was with Him through all of those trials. And God ultimately called Moses to lead the people out of Egypt to go have their own land. And Moses did just that, in the power of God; he brought the people out of Egypt and into freedom.
However, the area outside of Egypt is desert wilderness. And in this wilderness, the people were a big traveling group of nomads living in tents. And there was one tent that was set aside as special- it was called the tent of meeting, because God would meet Moses there.
And listen to how God spoke to Moses:
Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:7-11A ESV, emphasis mine)
Instead of just ordering Moses around, God worked with him side by side; even allowing Moses to appeal to God and get Him to change His mind on some things. And that is fascinating to me. That God put Himself on Moses’ level. And it’s not the only time- that’s also something that’s said about Abraham, that he was a ‘friend of God.But it’s unique in the history of religions. I don’t know of any other religion where this is the case. There are many religions where God is a Judge and Avenger of Wrongs. And in most religions He’s the Protector of the Poor. But only in Christianity is He a Friend.
And we might think Moses was pretty fortunate to get to spend time with God and speak to Him directly. But, God would go beyond what He did with Moses hundreds of years later. Because God didn’t just come in a cloud like He did with Moses, He put on human flesh and came as a man. And, in Jesus, God became even more accessible and made it clear that He wanted to know us.
During His years of ministry, Jesus gathered a group of men around Him that He served with and called His friends. And if they ever doubted whether He really loved them, He did something that erased all of their doubts- He died for them.
In John 15:13, Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” And three hours after He said that, He began the process of giving His life up for them. And for you, as well, if you would have Jesus as your friend.
And, you know what? God is on a friend-making mission. Jesus is a friend of sinners, and He wants us to be friends with sinners, too. Together, we are calling people to come and put their trust in Him, and to become a part of the eternal family of God. And friendship with God is not like friendship on Facebook- you can’t be de-friended. Because when you become a friend of God, you also become His child, you get adopted into His family. And God’s adoption, like His friendship, is forever