I’ve just finished reading Made for Friendship by Drew Hunter. It is subtitled “The relationship that halves our sorrows and doubles our joys”.

I found it a really helpful book about the benefits of friendship – in particular, I appreciated Drew’s assessment that many people today do not really have deep friendships. In fact, the concept of ‘friendship’ itself has been devalued.

His contention is that we need to see friendship as the truly valuable thing that God made it to be – perhaps most significantly, Jesus himself called us his friends (John 15:13-15). Perhaps Christians do not appreciate what it means to be friends with God because the whole concept of friendship has become devalued:

The thought of friendship with God rings hollow today because we’ve already hollowed out the idea of friendship in general. How highly (or lowly) we esteem friendship with God will correlate with how highly (or lowly) we esteem friendship in general – and that is currently at a low point. (Page 26)

It is no small thing to be called a friend of God, and our experience of friendship with him should flow out into our friendship with others. However, because of this ‘hollowing out’ of friendship we do not see it as highly as we ought. Drew goes on:

Most of what we call friendship is little more than acquaintanceship. But acquaintanceship is to friendship what snorkeling is to deep-sea diving. Snorkeling is fine, but skimming along the surface isn’t exploring the deep. We often float on the surface of our conversations, sharing little more than the most general details of our lives. We note our plans for the day, share a few interesting (or uninteresting) details about our week, offer a few sports or political opinions. But we don’t share the climate of our souls. We don’t share our struggles with sin. We don’t share our experiences of spiritual renewal or admit that we’re sitting in a season of darkness. No one knows when our soul feels spiritually chilly. Nor are most of us adept at drawing out others in these ways.

I’m sure I am not alone in finding that these words hit the mark. In the church today, so much of the time it seems that we ‘skim the surface’ of relationships. The church has lost its vocation to be a family – we prefer superficial relationships which don’t demand too much. By contrast, God calls us to deep relationships with each other, not least because that is simply how we are made – made for friendship. We cannot fulfill our purpose as human beings without those kind of relationships!

We are living in a time when loneliness is on the rise, people are being driven apart for all sorts of reasons, and technology encourages a superficial approach to friendship. Now, more than ever, we need to understand the depths of friendship and companionship we are called to.

In the rest of the book Drew makes some helpful comments about friendship – particularly highlights for me were the last sections on cultivating friendship and a Biblical theology of friendship. In particular, I’d never thought about friendship in the way outlined in the final chapter – through the lens of our friendship with God. This is a valuable book about friendship and I would recommend it to anyone.

However, from the perspective of Friend Zone, I would say one thing – there was nothing really about friendship between the sexes (or between members of the same sex where they experience same-sex attraction). This is a good general book about friendship, but I think there is much more to say – and I would recommend reading this book in companion with others to flesh out what friendship means.

Site update: One thing which reading the book did make me realise is that I needed to be a bit more explicit in explaining why Friend Zone is about male-female friendship, rather than simply friendship in general – hence I created this page.