As people created in the image of God, we are designed to be in a relationship with one another. One of the simplest, yet containing the most potential, relationships that are given to us to enjoy is friendship. Friendships are so interesting though because some are seasonal, yet others last a lifetime. However, there is something that all of the great ones have in common, and that is that they always point to something greater than themselves.
What C.S. Lewis Has to Say
Someone once shared with me C.S. Lewis’s description of friendship, and there was something within me that delighted in its reality. I am going to share it with you now. Maybe you’ve already heard it, but even so, it can be a refreshing reminder nonetheless. C.S. Lewis says that friendships are organic and unique in nature, and they come together naturally. He then explains why this is the case. He gives the picture of friendship happening when two people are walking in the same direction down a path, they notice each other and go, “You too? I thought I was the only one.” From there a friendship is born.
I’ve heard that Lewis goes more in depth on this in his book Four Loves, I haven’t read it yet, but I’m hoping to soon! I love this definition though, and we are getting ready to go a little more in-depth with it.
Tim Keller is such a gifted speaker and writer who obviously loves the Lord and has spent much of his life studying the Word. He has much to say when it comes to friendship, and if this is something that you want to hear more about, I encourage you to check out his podcast titled “Friendship.”
He quotes C.S. Lewis a lot, not only in his books but also in his sermons. So when he talks about friendship, he builds off of what we have already established. My brother, knowing that I’m a Keller fan, found one of his books at a thrift store and bought it for me. It’s called the Meaning of Marriage. At first, I was hesitant to read it. I’m just at a place in my life when I don’t know what the appropriate timing for books like this one is (especially with the absence of a romantic relationship in my life.) But I must say, I’m very grateful that I did read it. Not only that, I’d recommend it as a great book for anyone to read. The reason being, Keller presents a Biblical understanding in this book that is able to reorient our hearts and minds on Christ. He also points to the amazing gift of spiritual friendship, and how that is what a marriage is designed to be built upon. Since that’s the case, he spends a lot of time describing what this kind of friendship consists of.
In one of the chapters of this book, Keller gives the characteristics of friendship, using Scripture to back up these truths. First is constancy. The Bible says that friends love at all times, especially when it is hard. Then there is transparency and vulnerability in friendships, but also candor (the truth is given in love.) “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Proverbs 27:6) The way that he nicely summed it all up is that real friends “always let you in, and they never let you down.” Picking up on where we left off with Lewis, Keller explains that the nature of the beginning of a friendship is discovery rather than a creation at will. This is because it is from a bond of similar interests and longings that friendships form and then grow based on transparency and consistency with one another. Now we are getting into the really exciting stuff; spiritual friendship. Keller argues, and I would do the same, that spiritual friendship (one that is centered on Christ) is the richest and deepest kind of friendship available to us.
Does This Affect You
This is where it gets real. There are a few things that I want to address in conclusion. First, each and every one of us has a desire for companionship. And let’s be honest, it’s amazing when we meet that person with whom it just clicks. It’s such a precious gift when we have someone in our life that we can be real with and grow alongside with. Even though it’s possible to find camaraderie with multiple people, there is usually an inner circle of close friends in our lives.
Something that I think is important to keep in mind is that all good things in our lives are from above (James 1:17). Therefore our heart has to be kept in a place where we can cry out as Job, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed is the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) Even with regards to friendships, we have to keep our hands open to receive with grateful hearts the will of God in our lives. That’s where the beauty of spiritual friendship comes in.
The essence of spiritual friendship is that Christ is kept as the ultimate love at all times. Even more wonderful than all of this is the fact that the Lord desires to be our closest friend and companion. The One that knows us completely wants to make himself known to us.