Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt, Free for CAPC Members
In Gospel Fluency, Jeff Vanderstelt wants to help every believer speak the gospel in the stuff of everyday life.
Friendship, as a topic, was not something I put much thought into until the past few years. Through high school, college, and in my case, seminary, my shared life experiences with others created friendships organically. It’s not that you don’t have to work to create or maintain the relationships, but it comes easier in a way that you don’t fully realize until you’re into your later 20s and 30s.
With this reality perhaps in mind, Drew Hunter has recently published Made for Friendship: The Relationship That Halves Our Sorrows and Doubles Our Joys. As he notes in the introduction, “Most people have friends. But few of us know true friendship. Many of us don’t know we’re missing two of the greatest joys in life: walking with others in true friendship and knowing Jesus as the great Friend” (10). By exploring a practical, biblical understanding of friendship that views Christ as the ultimate model, Made for Friendship will hopefully help many of us move toward deeper and truer friendships with those around us.By exploring a practical, biblical understanding of friendship that views Christ as the ultimate model, Made for Friendship will hopefully help many of us move toward deeper and truer friendships with those around us.
The book is divided into three parts. The initial two chapters provide a basis for the necessity of friendship. This is especially helpful for those of us that might feel we can just grin and bear it through life without confidants. The middle part is the nuts and bolts practical section on friendship. Consider it three chapters for those of us who feel stuck in making and developing true friendships. Finally, the book ends with two chapters offering a theology of friendship. Hunter develops this first as a biblical theology of friendship ranging across the Testaments. He then shows how Jesus is the true Friend, the one who actually “gets” us in way that no merely human friend really can.
After finishing it, I felt that the parts could probably be read out of sequential order, which would allow readers to jump in wherever they feel most pulled. I would recommend diving right into the middle section if you’re already convinced on the importance of friendship, but you’ve reached that late 20 to early 30-something stage of life when you realize how difficult it is to make and keep friends.
Nonetheless, the first and last parts fill a much needed gap in the available literature. That is to say, we could certainly use more thoughtful theological reflection on the nature of friendship. Hunter’s book is a great place to start that reflection, and his suggestions for further reading give readers more options. However, the compactness of the list itself helps underscore that this is a topic that has been neglected for too long. The snarky part of me wants to suggest that the people more likely to write books are maybe more likely to feel they can get by without deep friendships. But, one of Hunter’s main resources for reflection is C. S. Lewis, who is not only a famous author, but had a famous group of close friends.
I think the reality might be that if you have close friends, you might not think about the topic of friendship that much. And if you struggle with forming close friends, you likely don’t think a book is the best place to start solving the problem. It also might be that those of us in ministry might have a harder time forming friends, especially true if you’re an introvert. In my case, most of my social energy is used up in teaching and mentoring, leaving little left over for the kinds of friendships that I need to cultivate. Made for Friendship speaks to this well, and I found Hunter’s thoughts on friendship and its importance an encouragement to rethink some of my schedule this fall. My hope is that it will help other readers to do the same.
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