In his book Surrender to Love, author David Benner states this truism about relationships: ”Knowledge by acquaintance is always better than knowledge by description.” While this certainly applies to all relationships, in this particular passage he is referring to the sad state of affairs in Christendom whereby we have traded a living, experiential relationship with God for simply knowing about Him instead.

Benner sure hit the mark with me. Too often I catch myself invoking the names Christ, Lord, or Savior–all Biblically sound forms of address–but the problem is I do so at the very times I need to know Him simply as Jesus, my friend. I’ve come to realize I will never grow into the person I desire to be, nor find the deepest longing of my heart, until I first walk consistently with Jesus in this way.

With Jesus as my friend, all paths to a growing relationship invite a heart-connection, whereby paying rote homage to a biographical God is replaced with the simple joy of relating more deeply and more often with Him. You’d think that would be too hard to pass up. But the reality is that even as I desire to have a more intimate connection with Jesus, I tend to run from the very friendship I treasure, trading it for the diversion of a growing mound of head knowledge–learning more about what He said, where He walked, and what He did–rather than spending time with Jesus Himself.

Truth be told, I believe my motivations are to stay on the defensive side of things because I’m too scared to trust Him with those parts of myself I know need changing. So I try to orchestrate how I spend my time with Him by putting Him on an untouchable pedestal I can admire from afar, rather than to risk exposing my own failings as a friend in return. In short, I fear I am an inferior friend and so I push His offer of friendship away. And once again my heart is left longing for a more personal connection–achingly so.

There’s no mistaking that knowing more about Jesus is a wonderful pursuit, just not when I make an idol out of the knowing, which is right where my flesh wants to take me. Still and remarkably, through all my defensive posturing, Jesus never gives up calling me into a deepening friendship. And those moments when I respond and we spend the time together in this way, the trust builds and our friendship grows a little more into the relationship He and I both want. Those moments are my best–the ones when I realize that He is the long-sought companion all my diverting substitutes can never be.

He is Christ. He is Lord. He is Savior. He is Jesus, my friend.

I hope this encourages you to walk in friendship with Jesus today.

For further contemplation: John 15:15

-Kevin Murray
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