“The Consolations of Friendship”: Intriguing Theological Exploration

“The Consolations of Friendship”: Intriguing Theological Exploration April 1, 2016

by Wesley Hill:

…Perhaps this is at the heart of why Christians came to celebrate it. Friendship is a token or participation in that divine lavishness. When I travel overseas to visit a friend, spending more money than I have on plane fare and gifts that I’ve carefully selected in light of the little hobbies and secret interests of my friend that I am lucky enough to know about, I’m doing so not in order to guarantee a specific response or to meet a need. I’m doing these things, rather, because I like my friend, because I hope to go on knowing him and loving him for years to come, because his company gives me pleasure. In friendship, I’m not looking for my friend to achieve something on my behalf or award me with some hoped-for prize, nor am I looking to supply some lack in him. Rather, I’m looking to be in his presence because he is someone whose presence I enjoy. In these ways, among others, friendship is perhaps a vestige or aftershock of the kind of love God displays in Christ.

Over the phone recently, a friend said to me, “Why do you think Jesus said what he said to his disciples in the Gospel of John: ‘I do not call you servants any longer … but I have called you friends’?”

I hesitated, unsure of where he was going.

“Surely it’s because they’re not his underlings; they’re not doing anything for him. They’re his equals. They’re his fellows. He loves them because he loves them.”

more! I don’t know to what extent I agree with this (or to what extent I’m in the market for a “theory” of friendship tbh) since as a historical Christian tradition and vocation friendship seems pretty practical and necessary–focused on life’s necessities. But this is one of the best depictions of the “friendship is gratuitous” position. I was glad I read it, & challenged by it.


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