1 Samuel 18:1-5; 19:1-7; 23:15-18

A couple of years ago, The Gallup Organisation conducted a massive study on friendship. They drew on more than 5 million interviews and the work of several leading researchers. Interestingly, they found that the quality of the friendships in a person’s life are the best predictors of daily happiness and life satisfaction, and have profound implications for physical health and longevity. They also found that:

If you have a “best friend at work”, you are seven times more likely to feel engaged in your job.

  • Friendship is “the silver lining in a marriage” accounting for approximately 70% of overall marital satisfaction.
  • Friendship even has an impact on your waistline. If your best friend eats healthily, you are five times more likely to have a healthy diet yourself. (Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without by Tom Rath)

In contrast to this, they found that if you asked people why they became homeless, why their marriage failed or why they overeat, they often say it is because of the poor quality, or nonexistence, of friendships. They feel outcast or unloved. Could it be that many of the problems we grapple with in Western society occur because authentic friendship is broken?

We live in a city with a population of more than 8 million people and yet so many of us feel lonely. Many people, even Christians, say that they do not have any real friends.

In today’s world where we are Facebooked, Twittered and emailed up to our eyebrows, friendship has become somewhat superficial. We write a status update instead of sending an email. We send an email instead of making a call. We make a call instead of paying a visit. We have become satisfied with weak ties with numerous people rather than deep, soul-satisfying connection with real friends.

For many, friendship has become self-centred. People conduct ‘me-friendships’ where a friend must fulfil their needs and desires. Others avoid friendship because they fear rejection. They’re afraid that if they allow someone to get to know them up close and personal they won’t like what they see. Some suffer from FFS – fantasy friendship syndrome – and have an unrealistic view of friendship that no-one can live up to so they don’t bother to make real friends because they will only be disappointed. Worse still, there are those of us who steer clear of making friends with ‘needy’ ‘flawed’ or ‘awkward’ people because we don’t want the inconvenience of a burdensome friendship. And due to the pressures and busyness of life, friendship for some of us has dropped (too far) down the priority list.

There is an urgent need, therefore, to recover Biblical friendship to become the authentic community of real friends God has called us to be.

But to do this we need to change. Like it or lump it, the Bible’s answer is that we should show ourselves friendly (Proverbs 18:24). If you’re struggling with loneliness or long for deeper, more meaningful friendships the Bible puts the responsibility on you, not others, to be friendly.

So, how can we recover a vision for friendship the way God intended it? How can we show ourselves friendly? By looking at one of the greatest friendships in the Bible: David and Jonathan. David and Jonathan provide an outstanding model of what authentic friendship is all about; the kind of Godly friendship we need and should offer the lonely and lost in London.

Are you an authentic friend?