Is it really possible to be friends with God? This article that I read recently: Jesus as our friend, we as modern day disciples by Al Earley (Advocate-Messenger) reminded me of the friendliness of Jesus that we learn of in The Urantia Book, and the attraction of that friendliness when it came to the apostles and others. Jesus was a very friendly person. A study of his life gives us clues to creating good relationships with others, and helps us to see the value of sincere friendliness. We'll discuss this idea further in our blog, below. Here are a few snips from the article - a very good read.
"German theologian, Jurgen Moltmann, writes that the marks of a deep and lasting friendship are affection with respect, affection with loyalty, and affection with freedom. I think this is another way of describing the most important ingredient in a relationship, trust. Without trust a marriage has little hope for it will be difficult to develop mutual respect. Without trust friends cannot develop loyalty. With trust marriage is one of our greatest gifts. With trust friends inspire us to do anything for the other.
"When the disciples trusted Jesus they finally believed him. They believed who he said he was, the son of God. They believed who he said God was, the loving father. They believed who he said they were, his friends, and they were ready to give up their lives for him if that is what their friendship with the Messiah, the son of God should mean."
Click to read the article
The Urantia Book advises the reader to study the "religious life" of Jesus and how he lived it. What does that mean - his "religious life?" To some, a religious life may mean a separate compartment of a person's life - a connection to a church - or a life that is lived according to a certain religion's theology, adhering to that religion's rules. But for Jesus, his life was a living and positive exhibition of his religious nature - not a set of dos and don'ts - a philosophy of life that demonstrated the statement that he made more than once: "He who has seen me has seen the Father." I have always found that to be a profoundly meaningful statement. His life was a statement of God's loving, friendly nature. That friendly nature charmed and disarmed all who met him:
149:2.14 On both friends and foes he exercised a strong and peculiarly fascinating influence. Multitudes would follow him for weeks, just to hear his gracious words and behold his simple life. Devoted men and women loved Jesus with a well-nigh superhuman affection. And the better they knew him the more they loved him. And all this is still true; even today and in all future ages, the more man comes to know this God-man, the more he will love and follow after him.
When we are exhorted to become like God - to "be perfect" as God in heaven is perfect, one of the finest paces to start is with the matter of friendliness towards others. In Jesus, we have the perfect example. And learning the depth and breadth of our brother-friend's friendliness can help all of us become better friends with our heavenly Father, and with each other. The Father rules this very universe through the power of his love and we know that love and true brother/sisterhood is the only thing that can change our world for the better.
Jesus, friend to the apostles
To these kingdom workers, Jesus said;
137:6.5 You are now my friends; I trust you and I love you; you are soon to become my personal associates. Be patient, be gentle. Be ever obedient to the Father's will. Make yourselves ready for the call of the kingdom.
How His friendliness affected them:
137:7.2 Throughout these four months these seven believers, one his own brother in the flesh, were getting acquainted with Jesus; they were getting used to the idea of living with this God-man. Though they called him Rabbi, they were learning not to be afraid of him. Jesus possessed that matchless grace of personality which enabled him so to live among them that they were not dismayed by his divinity. They found it really easy to be "friends with God,"
138:7.6 Jesus enjoined them to devote themselves to fishing for two weeks, adding, "And then will you go forth to become fishers of men." They fished in three groups, Jesus going out with a different group each night. And they all so much enjoyed Jesus! He was a good fisherman, a cheerful companion, and an inspiring friend; the more they worked with him, the more they loved him. Said Matthew one day: "The more you understand some people, the less you admire them, but of this man, even the less I comprehend him, the more I love him."
138:8.9 The disciples early learned that the Master had a profound respect and sympathetic regard for every human being he met, and they were tremendously impressed by this uniform and unvarying consideration which he so consistently gave to all sorts of men, women, and children. He would pause in the midst of a profound discourse that he might go out in the road to speak good cheer to a passing woman laden with her burden of body and soul. He would interrupt a serious conference with his apostles to fraternize with an intruding child. Nothing ever seemed so important to Jesus as the individual human who chanced to be in his immediate presence. He was master and teacher, but he was more—he was also a friend and neighbor, an understanding comrade.
138:9.1 Through the dark hours of the Master's death, in the hearts of these apostles all reason, judgment, and logic were set aside in deference to just one extraordinary human emotion—the supreme sentiment of friendship-loyalty. These five months of work with Jesus led these apostles, each one of them, to regard him as the best friend he had in all the world. And it was this human sentiment, and not his superb teachings or marvelous doings, that held them together until after the resurrection and the renewal of the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom.
139:1.11 Every one of the apostles loved Jesus, but it remains true that each of the twelve was drawn toward him because of some certain trait of personality which made a special appeal to the individual apostle. Andrew admired Jesus because of his consistent sincerity, his unaffected dignity. When men once knew Jesus, they were possessed with the urge to share him with their friends; they really wanted all the world to know him.
And as we begin to know Jesus better - as our friendship with him grows and we gain experience with him and trust in him - it will be natural to share him as much as we can with others. As we lift him up in our own lives, he will draw even more of our sisters and brothers to him, and into the kingdom.
His influence on others
This famous story of Jesus at Simon's banquet reveals the startling effects of Jesus' natural and unaffected friendliness on his friends - and his foes:
138:3.6 As the dinner progressed, the joy of the diners mounted to heights of good cheer, and everybody was having such a splendid time that the onlooking Pharisees began, in their hearts, to criticize Jesus for his participation in such a lighthearted and carefree affair. Later in the evening, when they were making speeches, one of the more malignant of the Pharisees went so far as to criticize Jesus' conduct to Peter, saying: "How dare you to teach that this man is righteous when he eats with publicans and sinners and thus lends his presence to such scenes of careless pleasure making." Peter whispered this criticism to Jesus before he spoke the parting blessing upon those assembled. When Jesus began to speak, he said: "In coming here tonight to welcome Matthew and Simon to our fellowship, I am glad to witness your lightheartedness and social good cheer, but you should rejoice still more because many of you will find entrance into the coming kingdom of the spirit, wherein you shall more abundantly enjoy the good things of the kingdom of heaven. And to you who stand about criticizing me in your hearts because I have come here to make merry with these friends, let me say that I have come to proclaim joy to the socially downtrodden and spiritual liberty to the moral captives. Need I remind you that they who are whole need not a physician, but rather those who are sick? I have come, not to call the righteous, but sinners."
138:3.7 And truly this was a strange sight in all Jewry: to see a man of righteous character and noble sentiments mingling freely and joyously with the common people, even with an irreligious and pleasure-seeking throng of publicans and reputed sinners.
138:3.8 Jesus and the apostles remained that night in Matthew's house, and as the people went to their homes, they spoke of but one thing: the goodness and friendliness of Jesus.
And here at Gerazim, soon after Jesus' friendly encounter with the woman at the well that profoundly changed her life, Jesus taught:
143:6.4 The theme of Jesus' teaching on Mount Gerizim was: That he wants all men to see God as a Father-friend just as he (Jesus) is a brother-friend. And again and again he impressed upon them that love is the greatest relationship in the world—in the universe—just as truth is the greatest pronouncement of the observation of these divine relationships.
Clues about how to be more friendly
We may not be able to rise to the level of living that Jesus did, but here we have clues - attitudes and actions that Jesus took with people that he encountered in everyday life. We can go and do likewise to the best of our ability:
When on the Mediterranean tour:
130:7.1 Most of the time en route to Carthage Jesus talked with his fellow travelers about things social, political, and commercial; hardly a word was said about religion. For the first time Gonod and Ganid discovered that Jesus was a good storyteller, and they kept him busy telling tales about his early life in Galilee.
130:7.2 When Ganid inquired what one could do to make friends, having noticed that the majority of persons whom they chanced to meet were attracted to Jesus, his teacher said: "Become interested in your fellows; learn how to love them and watch for the opportunity to do something for them which you are sure they want done," and then he quoted the olden Jewish proverb— "A man who would have friends must show himself friendly."
And from "As Jesus Passed By"
171:7.1 Jesus spread good cheer everywhere he went. He was full of grace and truth. His associates never ceased to wonder at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth. You can cultivate gracefulness, but graciousness is the aroma of friendliness which emanates from a love-saturated soul.
171:7.4 Jesus could help men so much because he loved them so sincerely. He truly loved each man, each woman, and each child. He could be such a true friend because of his remarkable insight—he knew so fully what was in the heart and in the mind of man. He was an interested and keen observer. He was an expert in the comprehension of human need, clever in detecting human longings.
171:7.5 Jesus was never in a hurry. He had time to comfort his fellow men "as he passed by." And he always made his friends feel at ease. He was a charming listener. He never engaged in the meddlesome probing of the souls of his associates. As he comforted hungry minds and ministered to thirsty souls, the recipients of his mercy did not so much feel that they were confessing to him as that they were conferring with him. They had unbounded confidence in him because they saw he had so much faith in them.
The constant friend to all, still at our side
From: The Farewell Discourse
180:4.4 As the Master paused for a moment, Judas Alpheus made bold to ask one of the few questions which either he or his brother ever addressed to Jesus in public. Said Judas: "Master, you have always lived among us as a friend; how shall we know you when you no longer manifest yourself to us save by this spirit? If the world sees you not, how shall we be certain about you? How will you show yourself to us?"
180:4.5 Jesus looked down upon them all, smiled, and said: "My little children, I am going away, going back to my Father. In a little while you will not see me as you do here, as flesh and blood. In a very short time I am going to send you my spirit, just like me except for this material body. This new teacher is the Spirit of Truth who will live with each one of you, in your hearts, and so will all the children of light be made one and be drawn toward one another. And in this very manner will my Father and I be able to live in the souls of each one of you and also in the hearts of all other men who love us and make that love real in their experiences by loving one another, even as I am now loving you."
194:3.16 Before Pentecost the apostles had given up much for Jesus. They had sacrificed their homes, families, friends, worldly goods, and positions. At Pentecost they gave themselves to God, and the Father and the Son responded by giving themselves to man—sending their spirits to live within men. This experience of losing self and finding the spirit was not one of emotion; it was an act of intelligent self-surrender and unreserved consecration.
Jesus was a friend in his physical life and he remains a friend now; only now, he is a friend to all in the inner life of each of us - a friend who is as close as a thought. For me, the two most poignant and important sentences in these last paragraphs are these:
"And in this very manner will my Father and I be able to live in the souls of each one of you and also in the hearts of all other men who love us and make that love real in their experiences by loving one another, even as I am now loving you."
Finding and sharing the love of God becomes far more doable when we understand his love better through the life of Jesus - our human brother who lived a human life like ours. That matchless love of Jesus has drawn countless souls to him and still influences his followers today. Discovering and accepting the love of God provides us with rich inner experience - spiritual experience that can be real-ized and passed along, one to another. The benign virus of love is real and contagious, once it has received a home in the human heart. It cannot be contained.
"This experience of losing self and finding the spirit was not one of emotion; it was an act of intelligent self-surrender and unreserved consecration."
And this can be our attitude - our choice. In order to truly love, we must be willing to allow our larger Self - our inner guiding Spirit - to gain mastery over the lives we lead.
100:4.5 If you could only fathom the motives of your associates, how much better you would understand them. If you could only know your fellows, you would eventually fall in love with them.
100:4.6 You cannot truly love your fellows by a mere act of the will. Love is only born of thoroughgoing understanding of your neighbor's motives and sentiments. It is not so important to love all men today as it is that each day you learn to love one more human being. If each day or each week you achieve an understanding of one more of your fellows, and if this is the limit of your ability, then you are certainly socializing and truly spiritualizing your personality. Love is infectious, and when human devotion is intelligent and wise, love is more catching than hate. But only genuine and unselfish love is truly contagious. If each mortal could only become a focus of dynamic affection, this benign virus of love would soon pervade the sentimental emotion-stream of humanity to such an extent that all civilization would be encompassed by love, and that would be the realization of the brotherhood of man.
Don't put it off: Start today to read and study the "religious life" of Jesus. The links and passages in our blogs are a slight sampling of the riches in the pages of The Urantia Book. We "modern-day disciples" can learn a lot from that sincere study. And on our Truthbook site we have many pages and features that can point the way to a closer walk with Jesus and God - visit us soon!