I Call You Friend
“As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” – Exodus 33:9-11
The rise of social distancing has meant an increased reliance on technology for communication. We call, text, video conference, DM, and Skype. Our communication is mediated by one form of technology or another. Technology allows us to remain connected while also creating an additional layer that separates us.
Yet no technology can replace the intimacy, connection, and empathy of meeting with someone face-to-face, not even FaceTime-to-FaceTime.
The ancient Israelites well understood the difference between a mediated relationship and a direct relationship. It is for this reason that Moses is unique. On multiple occasions, the Torah says that Moses spoke to God “face-to-face.” In Deuteronomy 34 it is written, “no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face…”
The scriptures say that Moses, by God’s power, performed wonders and delivered the Israelites. However, many prophets and leaders achieved similar wonders and victories. Moses was unique because of the relationship he had with God. “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”
What does it mean to be a friend of God? The passage here implies that between friends there is no mediation, no additional layer of separation. Between friends there is honesty, vulnerability, and trust. The text indicates that friends do not hide from one other or manipulator the other. Friendship with God is authentic and holy.
It must take something special to be called a friend of God. There are only three people in the scriptures who receive such an honor. God refers to Abraham, the father of Hebrews, as His friend. God names Moses, the great deliverer and law giver, as His friend. And in the Gospel of John, Christ, in whom the fullness of God is pleased to dwell (Colossians 2:9), calls you friend.
In the Upper Room Jesus speaks to the disciples and to us saying:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you…”
By the grace we are counted as friends of God. It is not by our achievements or our bloodline. It is not an honor you or I earned. Because of Christ as were chosen. Because of Christ we can bare our soul in prayer. Because of Christ, we are face-to-face with the one who was, who is, and who is to come, and in His eyes is love.