God Friended Me

You may recognize this title from some previews of an upcoming show on TV.  The idea is clever and CBS has included it among their Fall shows to be broadcast in September. The basic idea is that a young man, Miles Finer, a self-proclaimed and somewhat aggressive atheist, receives a “friend” request on his Facebook account from none other than God. (The act of “friending” is when someone is invited to exchange messages with the one doing the inviting, and allowing that person to see one’s personal information).  Miles initially thinks that this is a hoax and someone is just fooling around with him, seeing that he is an atheist. But Miles’ “God account” will keep directing him to others who then enter his life with the result that Miles becomes an agent for some good changes in the lives of others. There is something to this, Miles concludes.

CBS says that this show is intended to be a “humorous, uplifting drama” which will show the good that is in people.  It is to be a show that is inspiring and encouraging to those who view it. Now, the producers of the show are clear that there is nothing supernatural about the episodes (unlike “Touched by an Angel”, or “Highway to Heaven”). The philosophy behind the show is that we are all in this life together and there really are a lot of good people out there.  Apparently, the big question of “did God really contact Miles’ Facebook account” may take some time to answer (if it ever is revealed). It probably depends if this idea has enough steam to keep it going for months or even years. But CBS has high hopes that this clever idea will morph into a hit show.

As I hear the promotions for this show, I have a number of responses.  First, I do like the idea of a show that is positive and uplifting. It sure beats so much that is aired on TV that focuses on murder, betrayal, deception, immorality and a nasty assortment of other bad behaviors. The show will focus on the good that is in people, and there is often good to be seen in people (they are, after all, created in the “image of God”).  It might be nice to have a program that emphasizes good deeds and kindnesses of various kinds.

Second, while the idea is clever, it is not original.  Whether online or offline, God has been inviting people to be His friend for millennia. Abraham took Him up on it and became one. To become a friend of God, Abraham believed in the true God and then lived in fellowship with Him (James 2:23; 2 Chronicles 20:7). Moses was God’s friend and they spoke to one another as friends do (Exodus 33:11). Jesus called His apostles “friends” (John 15:14-15). Over time the apostles had come to believe in Him and to obey His commandments with the result that they had a wonderful, close relationship. The invitation by the sovereign creator of the universe to come and be friends is open to all. The friendship that is spoken about in the scriptures comes about when we personally respond to His invitation. We trust Him for our eternal salvation and then we listen to Him and obey His directives. But, when we pause to think about it for just a moment, it truly is an awesome thing that the almighty One would bother issuing such an invitation; and then, to follow up on the invitation and make it a reality. Through His Word, God daily is “friending” people. The issue, as always, is will they respond or put the invitation on hold.

A third response is a little predictive. The storyline points to views of God, in this upcoming series, that will reflect the growing, general view of God in our culture. We have talked before about Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (see a previous blog).  Fundamentally, MTD says that God is nice and He wants us to be nice too.  He doesn’t get upset about such antiquated ideas as “sin” and certainly is so loving that the idea of judging people apparently never enters His mind. He is there to give us a helping hand (so that we will be happy and fulfilled) if we want Him to, but He won’t interfere in our lives, much less make some demands on our time or behaviors. But He would like us to be nice and helpful to others. And who can be against being nice and good?

While I don’t know for sure, at this point, how God is going to be portrayed, we can be pretty sure that He will likely bear little resemblance to the God whose attributes and character are detailed in the Bible. And we can be very sure that the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ will be totally absent; claims that Jesus is the one and only way to God; that He alone is truth; and that life only comes through Him. As the Apostle Paul reminds us (2 Cor. 4:4), it is the truth about Christ that the Enemy labors at keeping from people, and characteristically this has been done through religion. In the CBS story, Miles’ father is a preacher, and so, we might get some general religious information through him, but we can be sure that the real truth about Jesus Christ will never surface.

So while the various episodes might have some “uplifting” elements to them, we need to be careful not to be drawn even a little bit towards the growing cultural view of God. A proper view of God produces a deep reverence for Him and this is at the very core of being a friend of God and Christ.