The Importance of Friendship
Friendship is an important issue often overlooked and rarely understood biblically. The friends we have often shape our lives and bring new joy as well as add greater depth to their own lives. The issue of friendship has always been something people have struggled with in their minds. Some understand the idea of fellowship and sharing things in common but are unsure how that relates to friendship or how friendship may be different.
Many people seem to have trouble making, building, and growing healthy biblical friendships. It’s important to remember what is being talked about is “biblical” friendship and not the everyday common type of friendship. Common questions may be: Where do I begin making a friendship? What’s a good number of friends? When and how do I end a friendship? What hindrances are there to biblical friendships? or Why do I have trouble connecting deeply with people?
Jonathan Holmes in his book, The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendships, does an excellent job of answering and explaining these issues. This book is printed by Cruciform Press, which specializes in short, concise books that state their purpose as “short and to the point, about 100 pages.
Easy to Read
Clear, Concise. Helpful. Inspiring. Easy to read. Solid Authors. Gospel-focused. Local-church oriented”. Well, this book does not fail to meet that criteria. This book is exactly as described and very helpful. It was published in 2014 and even addresses the issues of homosexual attraction and what to do in those cases. The major questions that have been on the authors mind and heart about what it means to be a good, biblical friend were quickly and succinctly answered. In only 6 chapters he goes from defining biblical friendship to how to make and grow biblical friendships.
Questions at the end of each chapter are very helpful to engage the reader with the material. The appendix is also helpful in clearing up any questions that may come up in the mind of the reader. In reviewing this book I found it to be very beneficial. Below is a brief description of the author followed by an overview and some major points that will be helpful to anyone struggling with the issue of friendship.
About the Author
The author, Jonathan Holmes, is the pastor of counseling at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from the Master’s College with degrees in Biblical Counseling and History and from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School with a Masters Degree. He serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and is married with three daughters.
He describes himself as an “introvert” and as “self-conscious.” He realized in college how hard and exhausting it was for him to make and sustain deep and lasting friendships. This led to his journey of figuring out that “friendship flourishes best when we seek to be and embody the type of friend we see in God himself.”
Jonathan Holmes study and grasp of Scripture and his skill at Biblical Counseling are clearly demonstrated. It is evident right away that he has a confident comprehension of the major issues that relate to building biblical, God-honoring friendships. The beauty of this book is that it is completely guided and maintained by the authority of Scripture.
Gets in the Word
You are not getting the opinions of a man but the word of God and what it says. In the first chapter he explains what biblical friendship is as understood from Scripture. In the second chapter he explains sinful substitutes that get in the way of biblical friendship. The third chapter is a study from Proverbs pointing out four areas that should mark any biblical friendship. This was one of the most helpful sections, clearly explaining the character qualities that must exist in a truly biblical friendship.
Chapter four demonstrates the pathway to making and building biblical friendships using a simple illustration and clear examples. Chapter five was probably the second most helpful chapter in showing the reason that biblical friendships either don’t happen or are hard to maintain. Holmes uses practical examples of the type of sin expressions that hinder true biblical friendship. Finally in chapter six the author brings it all together in showing the ultimate reason and purpose for biblical friendships which really helps to give impetus to establishing and maintaining biblical friendships.
Some quotable nuggets from The Company We Keep:
“Friendship was an indispensible element of Jesus’ earthly ministry”
“not relationships built merely around common interests, but relationships that emanate from our very nature as image bearers”
“The ultimate purpose and design of friendship is to point to God and His glory”
“This begins to get to the core of the problem: our sinful desire for control. We want friendships on our timetable, our terms of agreement. We do not want friendships that would move us out of our comfort zone.”
“I’ve come to learn that friendship flourishes best when we seek to be and embody the type of friend we see in God Himself.”
Those were just some of the quotes found in just the first few chapters and were immensely helpful.
In conclusion, this author found the book to be very helpful and straightforward, getting right at the issue and clearly demonstrating what it sets out to do, which is to describe biblical friendship and how that looks according to Scripture. The only issue is that due to the size it is not an exhaustive study and one would have to go elsewhere for that.
However, for anyone wanting to get a quick grasp on the issue and understand the purpose and way to have and maintain biblical friendships, this is definitely the book for them. It’s an affordable purchase and is even on Kindle. It would be a great addition to anyone’s library as a succinct and helpful resource concerning this very important issue that touches everyone’s life.