On Friendship: A Review of “The Company We Keep”

company-color-big-300-jpg.jpeg In the past few years, I’ve been thinking on and off about friendships.  It seems to me that many people don’t have good, close friends whom they trust, confide in, and help.  I’ve noticed that a lot of people would rather be alone or not get too close to others; a text or Facebook message is fine, but spending time together in a meaningful way is not always desired.  Why is this the case?  I suppose it has to do with several things, including social media as well as the fact that people are too busy (and too selfish?) to cultivate deep friendships.

If you’ve been thinking about friendship, desire good friendships (or if you think negatively about friendships!) I highly recommend this booklet: The Company We Keep by Jonathan Holmes.  It’s a brief (just over 100 small pages), concise (to the point), and clear (outlined and explained well) biblical discussion of Christian friendship.  The contents include 1) A definition and goal of biblical friendship, 2) Pseudo-friendships or substitute types of friendships, 3) The marks of biblical friendship, 4) Making and having friends, 5) Threats to friendship, and 6) The purpose of biblical friendship.  Each chapter concludes with a few brief application questions.

I appreciated this book because it is basic.  By that I mean Holmes doesn’t go down rabbit trails or inject all kinds of stories and anecdotes.  I also enjoyed this book because Holmes approached this topic from a solid biblical perspective, so he talked about sin and breakdown of friendships, and he talked about the truest and most faithful friend, Jesus.  Holmes was very clear: true Christian friendship has to do with Christ’s work for his people – friends are also brothers and sisters in Christ.  There are also practical examples and application scattered throughout the book.

My only critique of this book – and it is minor – is that it used evangelical adjectives that are my pet peeves: authentic, intentional, embodied, and transparent (to name a few).  These words annoy me because they are ambiguous.  For example, how is “intentional kingdom living” different than just plain “kingdom living?”  Is there even such a thing as “unintentional” kingdom living?   And what is an “embodied” friendship?  (The opposite of a “disembodied” friendship I suppose.)  Again, this is a minor critique but these types of adjectives always frustrate me because they seem unnecessary and trendy.

I’ll come back to this excellent book in the future and blog on it more.  The Company We Keep has certainly helped me think of the topic of friendship biblically.  My wife is going to read it next, and I may even do a sermon or two on this topic in the future.  Christian friendships are such a blessing that God has given his people, so we should take it seriously!  As Augustine prayed, “No friends are true friends unless you, my God, bind them fast to one another through that love which is sown in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who is given to us.”

shane lems

4 Replies to “On Friendship: A Review of “The Company We Keep””

  1. It is tough finding friends even in the church. There are cliques and it is hard to break into one. They don’t seem to want new people in them. I work 40 hours, have MS and live alone so I can’t break into programs held during the week where I could meet people. I do attend a Women’s Missionary group and we change tables at the first of the year so that we meet new people. Those that no longer have children at home bond with those who have grand children. My children are grown and moved away, but no living grand children. My only grandchild was taken home to be with the Lord at 9 months old. He would now be 19. Married people, forget it. They hang out with other married couples. Retired singles are so busy volunteering or taking care of family that can no longer take care of themselves, they don’t have time for developing relationships.

    It is very hard to make friends that I can call or get together with. I have one lady who I call my friend, but she is very busy with projects and volunteering that we don’t get together often. We seem to email more than anything.

    I am not unhappy, but online “relationships” are very un-relational.


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