Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Be God’s Friend?
“SOME youths worship God because others around them do it,” observes a Nigerian student named Yemisi. She adds: “But they do not know him or regard him as a person.” Yemisi therefore believes that because their whole approach to the matter is wrong, people often fail to become God’s friend.
Whether you agree with her or not, many youths are skeptical about the possibility of having any relationship with God—much less being his friend. Some have been put off by religions that make God seem distant and aloof. Yet others have tried to get close to God via drugs, transcendental meditation, or the occult—and have failed.
It would be a mistake, though, to conclude that God is so far removed from us that there is no way of approaching him. After all, who gave birds their happy songs and the trees and flowers their delightful colors? Who made the beautiful valleys, the majestic mountains, the glorious sunlight, and your wonderful body and mind? Who is the source of the many fine abilities that people have? Is it not our Creator?
Well, then, surely this shows that he is keenly interested in us. Does it therefore seem reasonable that he would distance himself from us, make himself unapproachable? On the contrary, the Bible assures us that “he is not far off from each one of us” and invites us to seek his friendship.—Acts 17:27.
But how can you do that? And how would having God’s friendship benefit you?
What God Requires
The Creator already has a certain link with everyone by virtue of giving “to all persons life and breath.” (Acts 17:25) However, being a friend of God is a far closer tie than merely being a creature of God. A prerequisite for enjoying such a favored relationship is making the right approach. Explains the Bible: “He that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—Hebrews 11:6.
“Earnestly seeking” God involves getting to know him as a Person. How can you do that? With good logic, the Bible further says that “what may be known about God is manifest . . . His invisible qualities . . . [are] perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.” (Romans 1:19-28) The things made by God—the distant stars, the roaring sea, a butterfly, a tiny leaf—all demonstrate and give insight into his immense power, his wisdom, his love. So contemplating his creative works is one way that will help you to appreciate the Grand Person that he is.
However, you need to know more about God than creation alone can reveal. For this reason he has provided his written Word, the Bible. In clear language this book makes known his name, Jehovah, and many facets of his excellent personality. (Exodus 3:15; 34:6, 7) Appreciating this, Yemisi’s brother Kunle says: “The Bible has been a strong influence in my life. More and more, as I read it, I find out that God has a purpose for humans and provides guidance for us to live in full harmony with his will.”
You, too, will find that simply reading the Bible is a very pleasing experience. A careful study of it will be even more rewarding, as Kunle has found. God’s Word says: “If you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself, . . . you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.”—Proverbs 2:1, 5.
Since these sayings of Jehovah are found in the Bible, it is worth your while to take the time to read it. Do not be discouraged by its size. It is really made up of 66 small books that are full of interesting history, biographies, prophecies, doctrines, and counsel on relations with fellow humans and with God. By reading for just a few minutes every day, you can dig into this wealth of knowledge that will draw you close to your Creator.
God’s Avenue of Friendship
Merely learning about God, however, is not enough. You must also avail yourself of God’s avenue of friendship with him. Jesus Christ explains: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me . . . If anyone loves me, he will observe my word, and my Father will love him.” (John 14:6, 23) Since Jesus is “the truth,” knowledge of the truth about God and his requirements can be gained by studying Jesus’ teachings. (John 1:8; 17:26) In addition, study carefully Jesus’ life course, for this provides a living demonstration of how to please God and enjoy friendship with Him.
Jesus Christ, though, is also “the life.” The Bible says: “Christ, while we were yet weak, died for ungodly men . . . God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us . . . [and] now that we have become reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:6-10) Without Christ, there could be no friendship with God, for we are born as sinners. However, Jesus’ blood, shed in sacrifice, “cleanses us from all sin” and ‘reconciles’ us, puts us back on friendly terms, with God. This, in turn, opens up for us the prospect of everlasting life! (1 John 1:7; John 17:3) Faith in Jesus Christ as “the life” is therefore essential to our enjoying God’s friendship.
Make Sure of God’s Friendship
God, through Jesus, has already taken the initiative toward friendship with you. But what should be your response? As you learn more about him and grow in appreciation of his goodness, you should be moved to love him and to want to serve him. You should delight in telling others about your heavenly Friend.—Romans 10:10.
Remember, though: Others can point out to you the way to be God’s friend, but you yourself have to take the initiative! Jehovah does not compel you. He recognizes you as an individual and wants you to come to him freely. As a young woman named Omolara put it: “I am grateful to my parents for helping me to know Jehovah; but it is up to me to find out whether I really want to serve God and practice good or not.”
So put forth effort. As you come to know God, let your life be molded by God’s Word rather than by the world. In time you will develop a “new personality which [is] created according to God’s will.” This means that your mental inclination will now begin to harmonize with God’s thinking and will move you to conform closer to his righteous standards.—Ephesians 4:20-24; Colossians 3:10; 1 John 2:3, 4.
All of this may sound quite difficult at first. However, one of the benefits of knowing Jehovah and being known by him is that you can approach him in prayer and experience his help and direction in your life. As Omolara says: “We know that, in times of grief or when we have weighty decisions to make, God is there to help us. He is always ready to do something for us.” (1 John 5:14, 15) Further help will come from close association with those who are already Jehovah’s friends. Say some young ones who are Jehovah’s Witnesses:
“I have found that close association with others who love Jehovah helps me to stay close to him.”—Omolara.
“Congregation meetings have helped me to understand the Bible and how to live in harmony with Jehovah’s ways.”—Kunle.
“Association with other Witnesses and sharing in meetings has helped me to maintain a good relationship with Jehovah.”—Ifeyabo.
You, too, can have the happiness that these and many other young people enjoy. Yes, ‘exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.’ (Romans 5:8-11) You will receive the reward God gives to his friends—everlasting life.—John 3:16.
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Studying the Bible will give you an intimate knowledge of Jehovah