Real friends are hard to come by. By that I mean friends who will hold you accountable, tell you the truth about yourself and speak the truth in love to you. These are the types of friendships that take a long time to develop but are a great blessing. The longest friendship I have is twelve years. We’ve been there through thick and thin in each other’s lives. This particular friend is one you want in your corner. A friend like this is one you can call up at any hour of the night if needed and they will be there for you. While I’ve had many friends come and go, the type of friend I’ve described in my experience is rare. In his helpful new book The Company We Keep In Search Of Biblical Friendship author and pastor Jonathan Holmes writes to help us understand the difference between Christian fellowship, biblical friendship, the marks of friendship, forging real friends and the purpose of friendship.
The author explains that “biblical friendship exists when two or more people, bound together by a common faith in Jesus Christ, pursue him and his kingdom with intentionality and vulnerability. Rather than serving as an end in itself, biblical friendship serves primarily to bring glory to Christ, who brought us into friendship with the Father. It is indispensable to the work of the gospel in the earth, and an essential element of what God created us for” (27).
Reading The Company We Keep was like a splash of cool water on my face in the morning. This book was deeply refreshing, honest but pulled no punches. Real friendship as the author states several times throughout his book is difficult, costly but worthwhile. As the author lays out a vision of friendship in action, the author weaves biblical teaching with sanctified common sense with the result that the reader will gain a deeper understanding of God’s purpose for friendship.
We live in an increasingly isolated culture where we live our lives in our apartments or homes. We go to and from work but interact very little with each other. If ever there was a time when people needed to understand why they need one another—it is in our own time. This is why as I read The Company We Keep I became convinced of the message of the book. Each one of us needs friends who will listen, care and help us through life’s difficulty. Picking the right friends is half the challenge. Picking the wrong friends with bad character can lead to a lot of issues in one’s life, a lesson I learned in my early twenties. Godly friends who minister to you are a precious treasure and gift from the Lord. The author nails it when he states, “Truly biblical friendship is embodied in the Trinity, empowered by Jesus Christ, and intended as a spiritual discipline among God’s people for the purpose of glorifying Him” (42).
I agree with the author when he states that we should not seek biblical friendship “with every person you meet” (109). There are only so many hours in the day but there are other reasons to add to his discussion as well. For example, at your local church you will likely connect with several people and may even become good friends with some of them. You may connect with others almost immediately and forge a quick friendship. You may be involved in ministry with some people but find out later that they aren’t trustworthy. As Christians we need to be careful about who we get to know and guard our hearts with all due diligence. When a friend hurts us those wounds hurt. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be open and transparent with people but we need to be careful about how much we open ourselves as well. There is a tension in biblical friendship—between having boundaries and being to open and honest. To be fair I don’t have this balance figured out. I tend to lean towards the side of being to open and honest with people rather than being guarded. Nevertheless, I appreciate what the author states that you cannot seek biblical friendship with everyone but you should seek out godly friends.
All in all, The Company We Keep is an excellent book. As I’ve noted already we live in a society that is increasingly isolated. We need books like The Company We Keep to help us think through what biblical friendship is and to provide helpful guidance to us on this vital subject. Whether you are a new or mature Christian, The Company We Keep will help you to not only understand Christian friendship but to grow deeper and more meaningful Christian friendships with God’s people.
Author: Jonathan Holmes
Publisher: Cruciform Press (2014)
I received this book for free from Cruciform Press for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”