My wife, Margie, and I first met over the phone. I was living in St. Louis, Missouri, at the time, and she was living in Portland, Oregon. A friend of mine, who also knew her, asked me if I would like to meet a new friend. I knew he meant “girlfriend,” so I said, “Sure.
” My friend said, “I’ll ask her if you can write to her.
” I said, “No, I can ask her myself.”
My friend said, “Oh, I’ll ask her if you can call her.”
I said, “No, just give me her phone number and I’ll call her.”
She did, and I called, and that’s how Margie’s and my relationship started.
We corresponded and phoned each other for about three months. Finally, I decided it was time we met in person, so I booked a flight to the Portland airport and she agreed to meet me. I had always felt a bit nervous around girls, especially one I was somewhat interested in, and I sensed that apprehension as the plane approached Portland. I remember praying, “God, if this relationship is supposed to be, please let me feel comfortable around her.” Margie told me later that she had always felt nervous around guys, and she sensed the same thing and prayed the same prayer as she drove to the airport to meet me.
And in spite of our apprehensions, from the very first, we felt completely comfortable around each other. It felt natural to be in each other’s presence. Romantic feelings are very genuine, and they can lead to a very enjoyable relationship between a man and a woman. This is how many very successful marriages get started. However, if I had to choose between the romantic feeling and the comfortable feeling in a relationship, I would by all means go for the comfortable. Romantic feelings tend to fade. Comfortable ones tend to last.
Comfortable with God
So here’s a question for you: Do you feel comfortable in your relationship with God? Many people don’t because they feel guilty and unworthy. But I propose that a relationship with God should also be comfortable. Spiritual highs come and go. Comfortable tends to last.
Now think of this: God sent His Son to die for you so He could have you for His friend. Thus, it’s obvious that having you for His friend is extremely important to Him! And if God wants you for His friends, don’t you think He wants the relationship to be comfortable?
Have you ever been around a person that made you feel uncomfortable? You may need to be around that person quite a bit, such as at work, but there’s always a bit of an edge to the relationship. And usually the other person senses the discomfort as much as you do. In marriages that end in divorce, the romance that the couple experienced earlier in their lives breaks down, and they begin to feel uncomfortable around each other. How’s that for a fun relationship?
Now think of God. Don’t you think He wants you to feel comfortable around Him? And don’t you think He senses the strain in the relationship when you feel nervous and uncomfortable around Him?
So how can you develop this comfortable friendship with God? While there are significant differences in the way people relate to God, I will share with you a characteristic of the Christian life that I believe everyone should experience. And it contributes to a very comfortable relationship with God. I can sum it up with one word: Peace.
The world we live in is in turmoil. Yet God assures His people that even in the midst of that turmoil, they can be at peace. Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33; italics added). He also said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27; italics added).
The Old Testament also emphasizes peace as an important quality of the spiritual life. The psalmist said, “Great peace have they who love your law” (Psalm 119:165; italics added), and Isaiah said, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast” (Isaiah 26:3; italics added).
However, the text that I would especially like to discuss with you is Romans 5:1. Paul said, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (italics added).
Please pay careful attention to the word we in that verse. Paul said, “We have peace with God.” As a first person plural pronoun, we would have to include both Paul who wrote Romans and the Christians in Rome who read his letter. And by extension, we should include every Christian from Paul’s
time to the second coming of Christ. I propose that peace is one quality that should characterize every Christian’s spiritual experience. Ideally, we will sense God’s peace at all times, and when we don’t, we should make it our objective to learn how to experience it.
I don’t mean that every Christian’s spiritual walk from the very beginning will be joyous and happy. We all experience moments and sometimes days when we feel depressed, fearful, guilty, and other negative emotions. But there’s a difference between peace and happiness. Even in your most painful and depressing moments, you can be at peace with God.
The basis of peace with God
Next, please notice that Paul gave a reason why you can experience this spiritual peace. He said, “Since we have been justified . . . we have peace with God.” The reason why you can experience peace in your spiritual walk is that you’ve been justified. Jesus paid for your sins on the cross, and His righteousness replaces your sinfulness. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about your standing with God. That’s why justification brings peace of mind.
Paul also said, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God.” Peace comes only to those who believe they’ve been justified. So if you aren’t experiencing peace in your spiritual experience, I suggest you ask yourself, Do I really believe that God has forgiven my sins and covered me with His righteousness? It’s one thing to believe in the doctrine of justification. It’s another thing to actually apply it personally. Many people can explain the theory, and yet in their own Christian walk, they doubt whether God really accepts them—whether He’s truly their Friend.
This is the discomfort in your relationship with God that He’s trying to help you overcome. If you aren’t experiencing peace in your relationship with God, you can, and you should. And the best place to begin analyzing and working through the problem is to check on your faith in His justification, because the peace that comes from knowing you are justified is one aspect of our human relationship with God that He wants every one of His followers to experience.
And this is the basis of your comfortable friendship with God.