In an age of social media, we may be tempted to think that friends are not necessary. It’s not that people believe that no relationship is necessary, but some question whether that face-to-face friendship is really needed. This may come as a result of those who are younger who spend much more time socially interacting via their phone or another device.
Then there are those who think their family is the only thing needed. That the love that they have for their family is so strong, that they would not need someone outside of that small circle to interact with on a regular basis.
The great philosopher, Aristotle, in Nicomachean Ethics, addressed this question. Do we really need friends? He ponders whether “someone who is happy needs friends or not.” That “people say there is no need of friends for those who are blessed and self-sufficient, since good things belong to them already.” He talks about how another ancient Greek philosopher, Euripides, in his work Orestes, also brings this up, saying, “when destiny provides well, why does one need friends?”
First, let us understand that friends are God-given. We are created for relationship by God: friendship is promoted in Scripture. We need friends because they can be better than family at times. Proverbs speaks about a “friend who sticks closer than a brother (18:24).”
Second, often family members become too close to us. They may not see who we really are in order to help us see our deficiencies. As a result, they fail to help us change to be more Christ-like to the glory of God. This is where Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
Many times families will not speak the truth to us, thinking they are being loving. But in reality, their flattery hurts us. A good friend is farther away than our family, so will bear less brunt for speaking truth to one another in order to help us grow. Our families can not always see our faults, not only because they have been living with them, but because they often share in our faults. Our faults are normal to them as they practice them with us. They can’t see where we fall short, because they also are doing the same.
Third, we need friends to rejoice with. I remember getting an eagle on the golf course. For those non-golfers, this means I shot the ball in the hole in two less strokes than what is expected. This is a rarity for anyone, especially a bogey golfer like myself.
With a huge smile I remember yelling, “Yes!!!” Unfortunately, I was playing alone. Disappointment soon followed because I had no one to share the moment with. Romans 12:15 says, “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” The joy would have been greater if I had someone with whom to share that fantastic moment.
As we have success in our lives and accomplish goals, friends can share with and encourage us. If we have several friends, we also can rejoice with them. We will have much more joy in our lives, and give that joy to others.
Also note, this is one of the points which show us that online friendships are not good enough. I believe I remember even calling or texting a few friends about my fantastic hole. It did not create the same response out of either of us, had those friends been with me.
In fact, C.S. Lewis says friendship is part of what makes life worth living. In, The Four Loves, he states, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that gives value to survival (chap. 4, p. 103.).”
Lastly, let us once again consider the question of the philosophers of why we need friends, even if we have a fulfilled life. For those who think this way, it is very selfish thinking. It says, “I am only concerned about my own wellbeing.” John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Notice the verse does not say his family, but his friends. Friendship is about sacrifice. This is why some struggle to have friends. They are selfish and only concerned about their own wellbeing. But people who have Christian virtue do not just care about how they feel, but how others feel as well.
This brings us to the greatest friend, Jesus Christ. The one who laid down His life for His enemies (Romans 5:10), in order to make us His friends. There is no greater friendship than what Jesus Christ has provided through the cross.
Are you a good friend? What is the necessity of friendship in your life? Do you just have friendships online, or do you have face-to-face friendships which share joy? Are you selfish and blind to the fact that you think you do not need friends, or do you consider friendship to be a necessary good? Have you accepted the greatest friendship, the friendship with God provided through Jesus Christ our Savior?
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.