People are made for friendship. God designed us to be social creatures. The only thing that was said to be “not good” before the Fall was the fact that Adam was alone. In making this statement, the Holy Spirit tells us just how important human relationships are. The divinely ordained sequencing of events in Genesis speaks volumes about the importance of friendship and human interactions. God made Adam. God gave Adam the responsibility of caring for the garden. Then God had Adam name all of the animals. So we know that God communicated with Adam and gave him specific tasks to accomplish. Yet, God makes the observation that there was still no suitable helper for Adam. Remember that the Holy Spirit is recounting these events for our benefit. Don’t think that God is sort of making things up as he goes, as he finishes the creation process. We do that–it is very human for us to evaluate the things we accomplish and make adjustments along the way, as we see what works and what doesn’t. But God doesn’t operate that way. This sequencing of events shows that God intentionally designed Adam to be in relationship with other people. Just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit existed in perfect harmony and relationship before creation, so Adam was made to live in harmony and relationship with other people. God created Eve and then created the relational structure of the family to be a constant reminder that humanity is to be dependent, submissive, relational and purposeful in all of life. Let’s break this down.
The structure of the family is a reminder of dependence because children are born totally dependent upon parents for survival. This is the picture of man’s total dependence upon God for everything that he needs, even his next breath. By placing a structure of submission in the family, man is reminded that just as the wife and children are to submit to the leadership of the husband, all people are to live in joyful submission to God.
The family structure is also relational. God created husband and wife to be sexually and relationally intimate with each other. Adam’s response to Eve is one of exclamation and fulfillment. The English Standard Version and The New Living Translation bring out this nuance in their translation of Genesis 2:23.
Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” ESV
“At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.'” NLT
The relational aspect of family is also seen in the warm, intimate relationship between parents and children, and between siblings. The family is the structure God provided for us to learn about relationships.
Lastly, God created man to be a creature of purpose. God gave man tasks and a mission statement. Genesis 1:26-28 gives the broad overarching purpose of occupying and controlling the earth for the glory of God. We also get a brief glimpse into some specific tasks with the charge to care for the Garden and to name the animals. Because of the Fall, we can only imagine what other tasks of meaning and purpose would have been given to mankind. But now, in light of the cross of Christ, God has given us another purpose, another mission. We are to make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all that Christ commanded (Matthew 28:19). This aspect of purpose is also embedded in the family structure, because the task of making disciples begins in the family.
Behind all of this is the idea of friendship. Man was designed for friendship–with God and with other people. These friendships would have been based on upon total trust and fidelity. Think of the wonder of a whole planet being united in dependence, submission, relationship and purpose. Because of the Fall, we will have to wait for heaven before we see that reality fully worked out. We see only glimpses now of what could have been in our human relationships, and we live with the overwhelming reality of just how tragic and destructive human relationships have become since the Fall. People are still looking for friendship, but without God, friendship is sought for selfish ends. The world seeks friendships that affirm independence, disdain submission, seek selfish gain and crave personal fulfillment.
Is it any shock to read in James 4:4 that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? We are designed for friendship. But if the search for friends is pursued for selfish ends, then bitterness and brokenness result. A common theme that we hear today is disappointment with people. It seems as though someone is always letting someone else down. Bitterness characterizes relationships. We were made for friendship–but since the Fall, the only way to find true friendship is to know Jesus Christ. Jesus said as much in John15:15:
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Where are you looking for friendship? Do you look to the world or to God and his people? Friendship–it is a simple and profound pursuit, one that is common to all of mankind. Help your children understand what true friendship is based upon. The stories of broken friendships dominate our music, our literature, our culture. The truth is that only in God can we know friendship as God intended.
This post was taken from the latest Shepherd Press Newsletter. I chose to post on this article on the blog to provide the opportunity for your thoughts and comments. Friendship is a driving force in the lives of you and your children. Understanding friendship from a biblical perspective is essential.