Friendish, by Kelly Needham
4/25 | Started 01.27.21 • Finished 02.16.21 | 5 stars
Loved, loved this book. And what a timely read for this period of our history, what with the isolation and loneliness so many of us have experienced. The main premise of the book is that we don't solve loneliness through friendships, we overcome loneliness with Christ. It sounds trite, but it is indeed powerful. A person cannot be truly free to love others until he finds stability, companionship, and significance in Christ.
If sin is the cause of our loneliness, then Christ, not a human relationship like friendship, is the solution. Not only is he the solution to free us from our sin, he is the only one who can fully satisfy all our longings for companionship and our desire to have someone always present and available.
God may provide for us through the lives of others but he would never want us to elevate one person (or persons) into his rightful place on the throne of our hearts. We must be careful to avoid making friendship an idol. Friendship isn't primarily about getting our own needs met, but about stirring one another up toward joy in Christ. Yes, Jonathan and David are an example of where deep friendship takes place in the Bible, but they weren't in it for each other. Rather they were in it for the furthering of the kingdom of God and his plan for his people.
It matters little what we prefer above God, only that we prefer it to him.
Needham then walks the reader through what she calls "marks of a counterfeit". These are helpful descriptions for how to know when a friendship is more than it should be. Jesus is our only saving friendship, and we must pursue him first. She also helps the reader redefine friendship, our needs, our enemy, and our mission. In addition, there are three appendices which provide helpful information about various aspects of friendship, including how to take a break.
The temptation to trust in friends instead of Christ will pop up frequently. But knowing that our significance is found in Jesus means we don't have to give in to temptation. We can be self-controlled by running to Jesus in those moments of insecurity rather than our friends.
In Friendish, Kelly Needham gently but unabashedly directs us to look at the common but often unseen idol of friendship. She then redirects our affections to Christ and our motives to mutual deepening of joy, encouragment, and support. I think everyone who is in relationship with other people should read this book. This means you.