[Vaughn Roberts writes a very accessible and brief book on True Friendship. In it, he offers 6 qualities of true friendship, and a discussion of each of these qualities make up the content of the six chapters in the book. Below, I have offered the six qualities and a favorite quote which in summary form identifies the key idea for that quality.]
True friendship is crucial. God’s plan of salvation is designed not only to restore our vertical relationship with God, but also to create horizontal relationships of loving friendship between human beings in his family.
Living unfriendly and friendless lives is both a rejection of God’s purpose for us as his image, and a dehumanizing tragedy.
‘Carnal friendship’ is based on the shared pursuit of pleasure, whether it be a common delight in clubbing or golf. ‘Worldly friendship’ is based on mutual advantage, as when business partners work closely together. There need be nothing wrong with either type of relationship, depending on the goal and manner in which it is pursued, but Aelred believed that a third type of friendship was the deepest. This is ‘spiritual friendship’, which is grounded in a mutual commitment to follow Jesus Christ.
To rely on just one other person for encouragement, wisdom and support, places a huge burden on them which they will not be able to fulfil.
True friendship is close.
Advances in technology can certainly bring relational benefits, but they have also led to an increase in isolation.
‘the great modern enemy of friendship has turned out to be love’. By ‘love’ he does not mean the care and concern for others which is essential to friendship, but rather what he calls ‘the idolatry of Eros’: the belief that true intimacy can only be found in the romantic sexual union of a couple.
In developing close friendships we should beware the danger of cliquey exclusivity, which can hurt the feelings of others. This requires sensitivity in recognizing, for example, that coffee after church is not the ideal regular time for intense conversations that only include a few. Once again, Jesus is a perfect model for us in the way in which he related to many in a crowd and usually reserved his closer interactions with his disciples to private moments.
We lament that we have no staunch and faithful friend when we have not really expended the love which produces such. We want to reap where we have not sown … The secret of friendship is just the secret of all spiritual blessings; the way to get is to give.
True friendship is constant. ‘The desire for friendship comes quickly. Friendship does not.’ There is no short cut to intimacy; it requires commitment over the long haul.
True friendship is candid. [W]e live in interwoven networks of terminally casual relationships. We live with the delusion that we know one another, but we really don’t. We call our easygoing, self-protective, and often theologically platitudinous conversations ‘fellowship,’ but they seldom ever reach the threshold of true fellowship.
Very often it is love for myself and a fear of being badly received, rather than a love for my friend, that holds me back from speaking an uncomfortable truth to him.
There is truth in Oscar Wilde’s witticism: ‘A true friend stabs you in the front’.
True friendship is careful. True friendship will sometimes be candid, but it must always be careful.
True Friendship is Christ Centered. Our self-centredness is what destroys our relationships. They cannot be fixed from within, but rather need a deeper love that comes from outside ourselves: the love of God in Christ.
No friend, or lover, no husband or wife, no community or commune will be able to put to rest our deepest cravings for unity and wholeness. And by burdening others with those divine expectations, of which we ourselves are only partially aware, we might inhibit the expression of free friendship and invoke instead feelings of inadequacy and weakness