True Friendship by Robert Vaughan

[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

One thought on “True Friendship by Robert Vaughan

  1. True friendship can also be called a brotherhood or sisterhood of individuals who come together and share each others joys and griefs because of shared experiences, ideals and beliefs. An example would be those of us who have served in a combat zone, patrolled city streets as peace officers, entered burning buildings, provided lifesaving procedures and etc. Those who have not done such things sometimes can not understand why those of us who have easily gravitate to others who have.

    Yes friendship is more than sharing a cup of coffee or a meal but when you spend hours within months or years in a Bible Study where you feel free and secure to discuss with the few one then develops those friendships.

    Friendship is more easily developed during times of difficulty and struggle together than when things are peachy with everything going as smooth as a lake w/o a ripple. An example would be a comparison of old oak trees surviving on a high rocky hill or mountain where the winds blow hard and the tree roots have hold tight to and grow deep into the ground. They also show the worst for the wear but have weathered the storms. Whereas old oaks that have grown is the river valleys of tranquility look beautiful but when the rare strong winds come or flood waters they quickly succumb to those rare harsh conditions. True friends help support you like deep and well grounded roots during the storms of life.

    However to be that good friend or have such friends require risk.Getting outside of safety net, letting down those high protective walls and lower/open the draw gates of our self made fortress. This is no easy task especially when one has on numerous times through life from youth to adulthood have been taken advantage of or been left abandoned by others whom we have thought to be a true friend. Although one may feel to isolate themselves is the safest option that has to resisted and be that friend that you others be to you. Don’t take advantage of abandon.

    This may not be done easily and requires the supernatural power that comes from being a child of GOD in that HE gives the mercy and grace to accomplish this through HIS Spirit that lives w/in us. Jesus is our perfect example of how to be a true friend.

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