"Friendship is no optional extra life feature we might get talked into by an eager salesman. It's vital to our flourishing."
Have you considered friendship vital to your flourishing?
If I’m honest, introvert that I am, in my younger years, I likely didn’t give credence to relationships. Walking along in my self-reliance, I thought I could depend on myself and my relationship with God to get me through anything.
But we know this isn’t true.
God created the church as interconnected puzzle pieces, every one unique and distinct, to picture his light and love to the world.
In No Greater Love: A Biblical Vision for Friendship, Rebecca McLaughlin helps teach us about our relationships and why they're so important.
No Greater Love: A Biblical Vision for Friendship | Book Review
Purpose of the Book
With this title, the writer aims to guide believers in contemplating the profound worth of friendship, which we see both modelled and taught by Christ.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1: No Greater Love
CHAPTER 2: Nontraditional Family
CHAPTER 3: My Very Heart
CHAPTER 4: Comrades in Arms
CHAPTER 5: The Inner Ring
CHAPTER 6: Bodybuilding
CHAPTER 7: Your Unexplored Self
CHAPTER 8: Brothers and Sisters
CHAPTER 9: Loving Neighbors
CHAPTER 10: Life Together
The content of each chapter centers around an aspect of friendship. She first introduces the inherent value of friendship and in the chapters to follow she explores friendship as partnership in the gospel, for our sanctification, and for our self-awareness. The author explains friendship within the church and outside the church. She looks at scriptural principles and character examples to guide us toward a biblical vision of friendship.
Gratitude for my friendships
My friendships have been a blessing. They find a regular spot in my gratitude journal.
Some have known me for over half my life, others less. Some of us fell into friendship, absorbed into the fold of a group, while with others, due to physical distance, it’s been a committed care from afar that meets less often but always deeply.
Friendship has humbled me incredibly. When we left our home to church plant in Tanzania, our friends prayed for and supported us while we spent years away. Yet, when we returned — first on our furloughs, then when we moved home — our friends welcomed us back to our Friday bible study, including us as if we had always been a part of it, like we'd never left.
I remember noticing surprise at this. Our missionary colleagues didn’t experience that. Most often, we heard stories of how friends from home moved on in life; the resulting disconnection left them stranded for friendship, usually at the pivotal moments of chaos in reentry.
So we were acutely aware of the unique love and care our friends held for us. This strengthened us through the challenges of transition and carried us later as our youngest became gravely ill.
In these recollections, I see evidence of the gospel. Though my words have been careless, my attitude poor, my perspective narrow, these wonderful souls prod me away from myself toward Christ through their sacrifice of care and faithful censure. They know me well enough to see my straying and love me enough to point it out. They pray for me and my family, and walk alongside us.
This book reminded me again of how grateful I am for my friendships, and drew me back to asking, “where can I be a better friend?”
What I loved about this book
Here’s a few things I really enjoyed about this book.
1 I appreciate that the author touches on friendship between guys and gals. There’s a lot of baggage here (I’d even posit even more so for those in ministry) as these relationships can either be entirely misconstrued or result in temptation. This area carries plenty of nuance and I think she presents it well.
2 I really love her openness. Friendships aren’t easy, she recognizes areas she’s struggled, her own insecurities and how that shapes her ongoing connections with others. This vulnerability is refreshing because I find it helps the reader relate. This also challenges us to grow in our own self-awareness in relationships. Knowing where we’re prone to hurt and offence is so important to building friendships, particularly in a cancel culture that really doesn’t seem to have time for developing deep relationships and also doesn’t really know how.
3 The author talks about the benefit of friendships in our marriages. I’m not sure I’d really considered this a lot, but it’s really important, particularly because while we love and care for our spouses, they can’t always be everything to us. Yes our spouse is also our friend, but having friendships helps keep us accountable in our marriages too.
4 Another way the author’s vulnerability is really helpful is her discussion on those who struggle with same sex attraction. As believers, it’s important for us to consider and reflect on gospel centered friendships, not running from them. So there's a really good opportunity for reflection here.
If you’ve been struggling in your friendships, this book would be a good place to find your bearings again, helping you reset your perspective with a biblical vision of friendship.
If you’re interested in a topical study on friendship, I would highly recommend this resource. It would also make a great small group book club with your friends, providing you with an opportunity to explore your friendships, the ways you’re already growing together and areas of challenge.
# of Pages: 176
Level of Difficulty: Easy
My Rating: 5 stars
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Scriptures About Friendship
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Prov 27:17)
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thess 5:11)
He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. (Job 6:14)
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:12-15)
That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. (Rom 1:12)
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*A big thanks to Moody Publishers for the complimentary copy of this book and for the opportunity to post an honest review.