One of my favorite names in the Bible is “Theophilus,” to whom Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts are addressed. In Luke 1:3, we read, “I too decided . . . . to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus.” The name means something like “one who loves God” or “friend of God.”
Scholars don’t know whether Theophilus is the name or title of a particular person (and if so, who that particular person might be), or if the name simply represents anyone and everyone who loves God. Well, the scholars will never figure it out for sure, at least not this side of heaven.
But friend of God! Think of that. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a friend of God? And not just any friend of God, but a most excellent friend of God?
Traits that make friendship possible
What would it take to be a most excellent friend of God? Well, we can look at our human friendships for examples. According to Psychology Today, there are 13 traits that make friendship possible. And they fall into three categories: integrity, caring, and congeniality.
Integrity includes trustworthiness, honesty, dependability, and loyalty. Do we trust God’s word? Does God trust our word?
Caring includes empathy, being supportive in bad times and in good times, and listening without judgment. God certainly is with us in our bad times and in our good times. Are we with God in bad times and in good?
Congeniality includes self-confidence, being fun to be around, and being able to see the humor in life. It seems to me that a God who can create platypuses and octopuses (and human beings!) has a quirky sense of fun, wouldn’t you agree? The least we can do is smile at the joke.
Good friends are also generous with each other, generous in thought, word, and deed. My buddy Al and I buy each other coffee and don’t pay any attention to whose turn it is to get the next one. It’s a small act of generosity between friends. Think of the huge acts of generosity God has made for us! We certainly can never pay it back–but maybe we can make a gesture toward paying it forward in whatever ways we can.
What are some other ways we can be most excellent friends of God? What are some ways God has been a most excellent friend to you?
Audrey Novak Riley is director for stewardship for Women of the ELCA.
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