Young People Ask . . .
Can I Really Be a Friend of God?
BE A friend of God? No way, believes 20-year-old Doris. “I feel so inferior and so unworthy of anyone’s liking me,” bemoans this young woman. “I even avoid praying to Jehovah God because I don’t think I deserve being in his presence.” Deep inside, some youngsters feel totally unworthy of God’s friendship. While they may cherish the idea of being a friend of God, they feel such is unattainable for them. Have you ever felt that way?
At times, his own weaknesses may make a youth feel unworthy of even approaching God. Take young Michael, for instance. He says that before coming to appreciate godly ways, he was “infested with nearly every sinful and hurtful thought and deed there is.” However, what he learned from his study of the Bible made him realize the grief and disappointment he was causing God. He explained: “Each congregation meeting made at least one more of my flaws apparent to me. . . . I could not foresee Jehovah’s forgiveness of my seemingly endless sins when I could not even forgive myself.”
In other cases, the way a youth is treated by others may make him feel unworthy of Jehovah’s friendship. For instance, Doris, quoted previously, was abandoned as a small child by her mother. She revealed: “I don’t think anybody loves me. If my own mother and family have left me alone, what chances are there of anybody else caring for me?” When a youth has been treated in a demeaning and abusive way since childhood, he may sincerely believe that God could never want him as a friend.
On the other hand, a young person may have had a friendship with God but, because of weakness, falls into serious sin. This happened to Tracy. “I feel so ashamed,” laments this 21-year-old, “my pain and guilt are unbearable. I have hurt my Father, Jehovah, so much.”
Perhaps you find yourself in a situation similar to one of the foregoing. But there is hope: You can have God as your friend!
Why You Can Be God’s Friend
It is true that sinful acts can prevent one from being God’s friend. Fortunately, our loving Father has taken the initiative to help us. “God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” writes the apostle Paul. (Romans 5:8) By his death, Jesus paid a ransom to redeem appreciative ones from total domination by sin. (Matthew 20:28) Thus, the apostle adds: “We were God’s enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son.”—Romans 5:10, Today’s English Version.
Before coming to appreciate Jehovah’s standards, some youths, like Michael mentioned earlier, may have engaged in gross wrongdoing. Yet, through Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, one can be forgiven for past sins, no matter how serious these may have been. The Bible gives this heartwarming assurance: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Nevertheless, a person must take steps to show God that he appreciates such cleansing. The apostle Paul states a principle that can be applied: ‘“Quit touching the unclean thing,” says Jehovah, “and I will take you in. And I shall be a father to you.”’ (2 Corinthians 6:17, 18) How touching it is to know that if a person turns from such wrongdoing and is genuinely repentant, God is willing to receive him into His favor as a friend.
What about youths who have been reared in an abusive environment? Realize that God does not consider people guilty because things were done to them against their will. Such ones were victims rather than participants in sin. Remember, too, that your worth as a person does not depend on the judgment of another human. Jehovah can become your Friend despite your circumstances. Maureen was reared by a Christian mother in a home full of violence because of her alcoholic father. Yet she said: “In the middle of all this mess, somehow I was able to develop a relationship with Jehovah. I came to know him as the One who would never abandon me.”
What If You Fall Into Serious Sin?
Doug, who was reared by godly parents, became involved in sexual immorality at age 18. This was due to his bad associations. “I knew it was wrong, but I kept doing it because I wanted to have a good time,” confessed Doug. Some time later, Doug saw the futility of his course. He admitted: “I began to see that all my so-called friends were just using me to get my money or have a good time.” He then began to take steps to regain Jehovah’s friendship. But a huge obstacle blocked his progress.
“The main thing that made it so hard to come back was that I felt so unworthy,” confided Doug. “I felt that all I had done was bad in Jehovah’s eyes. Knowing how good he is and how much he had put up with me, there seemed to be no way that he would want to forgive me because I was just so bad.” Yet, Doug was able to get over this hurdle with the help of a congregation elder and by carefully considering the Bible account of Manasseh.
Who was Manasseh? A king of ancient Judah. The Bible indicates that he had been taught by his godly father, Hezekiah, to love Jehovah. But after his father died and he became king at age 12, he thought he could now do as he pleased. He forsook Jehovah for the worship of Baal. Such worship was marked by grossly immoral and unrestrained sex orgies. Manasseh “did on a grand scale what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah, to offend him.” Through faithful spokesmen, “Jehovah kept speaking to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention.” Then, as an expression of Jehovah’s judgment, Manasseh was taken to Babylon as a shackled prisoner.—2 Chronicles 31:20, 21; 33:1-6, 10, 11.
When Manasseh reflected on his past deeds and compared them with what he remembered about Jehovah’s laws, he was overwhelmed with guilt and begged for forgiveness. He humbled himself before God and “kept praying to Him.” And God “let himself be entreated by him and He heard his request for favor and restored him to Jerusalem to his kingship.” Yes, “the Father of tender mercies” was willing to allow this repentant sinner to draw close to him again. After receiving such mercy, Manasseh, by personal experience, now “came to know that Jehovah is the true God.”—2 Chronicles 33:12, 13; 2 Corinthians 1:3.
If Jehovah could take Manasseh back, surely he would also allow a wayward youth today to regain a relationship with Him if the youth shows a repentant attitude. Doug responded to the help of the spiritual shepherds in his congregation. He was helped to see clearly that God “will not for all time keep finding fault, neither will he to time indefinite keep resentful.”—Psalm 103:9.
Stay God’s Friend
Once God becomes your Friend, you must cherish this relationship in order to keep it. One 18-year-old baptized girl became an unwed mother. Even so, she was helped to set matters straight with Jehovah. (See Isaiah 1:18.) The turning point in her recovery? “I learned that Jehovah was a loving Father and not an executioner,” she explained. “I realized that he was hurt by what I had done. It is so important to look upon God as a Friend, someone with emotions, and not merely an abstract Spirit to be paid homage but never truly loved.” Like Manasseh, she was impelled to become fully involved in Jehovah’s worship. (2 Chronicles 33:14-16) This has proved to be a protection to her. She advises other youths: “Keep striving to praise Jehovah even if the going gets rough. Jehovah will lovingly straighten your paths once again.”
It is also important that you seek friendship with those who are God’s friends. Avoid like the plague, however, those who clearly have no respect for godly principles. (Proverbs 13:20) Young Linda became involved in sexual immorality with a youth whose friendship became “more important than anything.” After her spiritual recovery, Linda admitted: “You can destroy your whole life by not having that personal bond between Jehovah and you.”
Do you have such a bond? If not, work to obtain it. Linda sums up the value of having God’s friendship by saying: “The most important thing in the whole world is a good personal relationship with Jehovah. No boy or girl or anything else in this world is greater than that. If friendship with Jehovah is not there, then nothing else matters.”
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Some youths may feel unworthy to be God’s friend