The book explores our understanding of God (doctrine of God) and our relationship with him (Christian spirituality) from a variety of non-typical angles. Based on a study of Scripture, I argue that to deepen our friendship with God, believers must:
- Keep enlarging our view of who God is along with realizing that God desires to enter into a dynamic friendship relationship with us, and
- Be intentional about seeking an intimate and experientially satisfying relationship with God that will involve awareness of personal barriers that hinder us and commitment to stretching beyond our comfort zones.
Although the reading style is conversational and often personal, the proposals are based on an integrative study of diverse fields-- New Testament, theology, philosophical theology, and Christian spirituality (32 pages of endnotes). Also, at the end of each chapter I include a pair of relevant spiritual disciplines as practical suggestions for "wasting" time with God (see summary Table 1.1, p. 31, Table 8.3, p. 246).
Main points of each chapter: [pages in brackets indicate a summary table or figure in the book]
Ch. 1 The Quest: Knowing God More Deeply False fixed ideas about God and false expectations and assumptions about how God relates with believers can hinder the development of a more intimate relationship with God. For example I make a distinction between God's parental love and his friendship love: the first remains constant, but the latter will vary among believers depending on our efforts to know God more. The promise is sure: "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you" James 4:8. This first chapter introduces the main subject (overview of the book is on pages 29-30).
Part 1: Making Room for God Since God is majestic and unique, there are certain foundational requirements to begin to make room in our lives for God as believers. These three chapters cover topics that actually are characteristic of any good relationship: preferential friendship love (Chapter 2), humility (Chapter 3), and getting beyond outward (i.e., physical) appearances to connect with the inner person (Chapter 4). But these matters are also uniquely applicable in befriending God.
Ch 2 Friendship: Approaching the God Who Is Love God's trinitarian nature and fellowship of eternal love sets the foundation for what is genuine Christian friendship and community. Furthermore, we will need to grow deeper in our close human friendships if we wish to have the relational maturity to experience greater intimacy with God (e.g., 1 Jn 4:20-21). [p. 47, 53]
Ch 3 Humility: Honoring the God Who Is Holy Since God opposes the proud (Jas 4:6, 1 Pet 5:5), little headway can be made to love God more deeply unless we continue the project of humbling ourselves before God, for which task he offers his grace. Jesus is the premier example of it means to humble oneself. [p. 76]
Ch 4 Faith: Seeing the God Who is Invisible We must become convinced that this is a God-bathed world--that the immaterial reality is just as real as the material reality. Therefore, we must deepen our reliance on this invisible reality and our invisible God, if we wish to seek God and sense his presence more and more (2 Cor 4:18, 5:7). [p. 110]
Part 2: Deepening Our Friendship with God
With readiness issues discussed in Part 1, the matter of increasing our intimacy and conversation with God becomes the focus in Part 2.
Ch 5 Commitment: Seeking the God Who Hides We must seek God with all of our heart (Mt 22:37). Furthermore, God intentionally cloaks some of his presence--he is partially hidden--so as not to coerce our response, but to nurture our seeking him because we want to--as close friends do. At times, God also becomes silent--initiating periodic "dark nights of the soul"--to help move us through barriers that hinder our relationship with him. [p. 136]
Ch 6 Communication: Hearing the God Who Speaks In addition to his Word, God also offers his guidance (Jas 1:5) with situation-specific direction for life decisions through the counsel of others and through the inner voice [overview, p. 166]. God the Spirit indwells us, speaks to us and helps us enter into a supernaturally-assisted lifestyle (Jn 7:38).
Ch 7 Apprenticeship: Yielding to the God Who Disciplines We don't know all the reasons why God permits suffering, but we can be assured that various good outcomes can be ours [summary, p. 190] if we yield to God the Father's discipleship/discipline of our lives through suffering (Heb 12:5-11).
Ch 8 Partnership: Asking the God Who Answers God the Father invites us to pray and see things change. There is room within God's plan for our requests [p. 227]. God wishes to colabor with us and teach us how to reign with him--one aspect of our ultimate destiny (Rev 22:5). Furthermore, we can learn to improve our prayer requests to God.
Read Chapter 1 of the book at Faith & Reason Forum