True Friendship, by Vaughan Roberts (10Publishing, 2013).
So, here’s a question: When did you last read a book on friendship? In fact, have you ever even come across one? And what about a sermon or a seminar?
If, like me, you found yourself answering in the negative, then it seems we’re not alone – author Vaughan Roberts went through a similar experience. Roberts is a church minister in Oxford and an established writer of popular-level Christian books, but he explains that this book came into being not simply because he wanted to teach on the subject, but because he came to an overwhelming sense of the significance of friendship in his own life. He speaks of the realisation that he had gone through a period of neglecting friendships without really being aware of it, and so suddenly found himself very aware of the need for meaningful friendships. Now combine this with the growing conviction that the Bible has much to say on the subject, and True Friendship was born.
A Book to Read Together…
Early on Roberts makes the bold claim that shapes the rest of the book: friendship is not an optional extra, indeed “living unfriendly and friendless lives is both a rejection of God’s purpose for us as his image, and a dehumanizing tragedy”. Over the course of six bitesize chapters he then proceeds to paint a surprisingly comprehensive picture of what kind of friendships God would have us foster. Each chapter reflects on a different aspect of the Bible’s rich exhortation to ‘true friendship’, and all along it is the framework of the gospel of grace that provides its motivation, power and wisdom.
10Publishing, the publishing division of the growing Christian book-seller 10ofthose, has put out a number of brilliant little books over the last few months, seemingly hand-picking some brilliant material from evangelical pastors – and True Friendship is no exception. Clearly this is no lengthy treatise, yet as Roberts explains, the brevity is intentional. Given the nature of the subject matter, if the form of such a book could not be easily accompanied by reflective reading, and ideally communal reflection too, then surely it would have fallen short. Whether it be a summer book-group, a prayer triplet, or an accountability group, having Roberts’ material on the table will set you in really good stead to discuss how best to focus those relationships.