Things That Make You Say “Selah” Dep’t. (“Selah”, as I’m sure you know, means “pause and reflect”. You see it often in the Psalms. Think of it as the psalmist’s mike-drop.)
The other day, we sang a song in church that goes, “I am a friend of God, He calls me ‘friend'”.
Have you ever paused to consider that statement? I mean, it sounds a bit presumptuous, at first. “You’re a friend of God? Well, lah-di-frickin’-dah!”
It could be heretical. Abraham was a “friend of God” — are you saying you’re as special as Abraham? (Answer: “Are you saying Abraham’s as special as me?” At which point, the gloves come off. Maybe not such a good answer.)
Or, it sounds silly and even childish, thinking about the time a fellow I used to work with referred to believers as talking to their “eye-in-the-sky invisible friend”.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
— John 15:13-15
If we do as Jesus commands us — to love one another, love God above all and spread the good news of the Kingdom — we are His friends. What’s more, He has told us, through His words on earth and through the Word of God in the Bible, what He is up to, so that, while we are expected to serve Him as we serve one another, unlike servants, we are not kept in the dark by a Master. We have a Friend who is open and forthright with us in all things.
But there’s more.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Comforter], that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him;l but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you …
“The Helper [Comforter], the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
— John 14:16-17, 26
The Greek word that is used here is parakletos, which means someone who is called to a person’s side. Definitions include “intercessor”, “consoler” and “advocate”, and those have been woven into the various English versions of the Bible. The King James Version calls Him the “comforter”; the New King James says “helper”, the New International Version uses “advocate”, and The Message says, quite plainly, “friend”.
All are correct, although I do like the KJV’s “Comforter”, as it connotes a not just one who consoles, but keeps warm, and wraps around us like a quilt — or comforter. At the beginning of John 20, Jesus tells Mary Magdalene not to cling to Him, because He had not yet ascended to His Father: the Comforter He would send in His place would cling to her — not the other way around.
But I digress. The whole idea of parakletos is someone who walks beside you, not simply a companion on a journey, but a companion who is ready to defend you, advocate for you and, at the end of the day, console you. That’s a definition of a real friend — and this particular Friend happens to be the third part of God — the Holy Spirit.
And here’s where we say selah.
If we receive Christ and ask God to send us the Holy Spirit — and Jesus says all we have to do is ask, and He will (Luke 11:13) — then we can say, boldly and without equivocation, that God is our Friend, and we are His.
And if the atheists, agnostics and assorted smart-alecks want to sneer and snicker at that, that’s their problem. When you get right down to it, our Friend is only “invisible” to them.
And quite frankly, this “invisible Friend” has never let me down. I wish I could say the same for the friends I can see — forget that: I wish my friends, who have seen me, could say the same about me.