The Art of Friendship
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Kim Wier wants everyone to know that they were made for meaningful relationships. In her book, The Art of Friendship, she discusses what the Bible says about friendship, the value God places on these relationships, and how you can stop believing lies, overcome fear, and step into what she calls an essential spiritual discipline.
What inspired you to write The Art of Friendship?
Failure! I moved my whole growing up years, every two years we relocated, so I struggled with how do I fit into a group? and what does it look like to keep a relationship? And then growing up and becoming an adult, I brought all those patterns in life with me. And you know, female relationships can be hard to navigate. I realized just how much I didn't know, and the one thing I do know both as a Bible teacher and as a woman who craves to know what God knows, I realized He had to have a better plan for this because it's such a significant part of life. So as I started digging in and looking to see what God has to say, what I discovered was He has this beautiful calling to friendship and a very intentional plan about how it should be looked at in our lives, and I was missing out and I realized so many other people are as well.
What value does God place on friendships?
There's only one relationship that God calls every single one of us to participate in, and that's friendship. He doesn't command that we all get married. He doesn't command that we all become parents, but He does command that we all become friends.
Over and over, God makes it clear that He intended for us to be a friend as He's a friend. Jesus unpacks that being the perfect representation of who God is, and yet He comes to explain it in ways so that we can really understand it better. One of the things He says in John 15 is, “I'm a friend. God is friend. Now here's what friends looks like: I'm your friend because, I lay down my life for you. I show you everything my father shows me, and I'm your friend because I chose you before you chose me. Now therefore you go and love exactly as I have loved.” There's that command: Go friend.
Why do you think Christians overlook friendship in the Bible?
There is this beautiful doctrine of friendship, but when you put that up against things like the doctrine of justification and redemption, it sounds kind of light, right? It seems almost frivolous! And yet the reality is it's this beautiful, true doctrine. It's theology of God as friend.
I can't explain why the church doesn't help us understand that more, but here's what I do know: we are missing this valuable aspect of who God says He is in our lives, and we're missing the opportunity to mirror that to the rest of the world. I think one of the exciting things about friendship is the potential that it is to partner. Yes, [God] is our friend and we're His friend—that's this first aspect of it. But the second aspect of it is that we get the opportunity to show what God is like to the rest of the world.
Why do you consider friendship to be a spiritual discipline?
Think about the things that God commands us to do. We would consider those things spiritual disciplines, right? Here we have another command that we might not have even recognized as a command. I'm your friend, so friend like I friend. There was no ambiguity to that at all. It's a command and yet He doesn't say go friend any old way you want to. There is a discipline. There is a practice that is pleasing to [God] for [us] to follow. Marriage is a spiritual discipline for those who enter into it in Christ. They don't get to just say, “I'm going to be married any old way I want, God says you are under my authority and here's what marriage should look like.” Same thing with friendship. It is a spiritual discipline for those who belong to Him.
Why are women sometimes hesitant to go deep into friendships, or make friendships, and why is that harmful?
I think for some people they've struggled with loneliness so much that they have thrown up the white flag and surrendered and said, “Well, I'm not good at it.” So for the most part, we just stay out of it. I think a lot of women feel that way. It's too hard. I've been hurt too many times. It didn't meet my expectations. I'll just live this way. It's okay. I have my children, or I have my work.
Unfortunately, there are so many drawbacks to loneliness besides the fact that it's not how God created us to be. [Loneliness] is actually detrimental to your physical, spiritual and mental health is worse than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Research shows that, that groups of people, older people who have very few relationships, 22% more likely to die. There's all this empirical evidence to show what God has said it's not okay to just surrender to loneliness. It's incredibly damaging.
Part of moving toward relationships that can be satisfying is setting our expectations. That's where we get disillusioned. Like, I want to know that I can have a best friend forever, but that's not a biblical model. Our expectation is our friends never going to hurt us. You know, they're really a friend. They're always going to be, have our back. They're never going to disappoint us. They'll never betray that. Well, that's great if Jesus is your friend, but short of that, the rest of us are just people and we are going to hurt. And the key isn't how do you keep from hurting each other, but it's how do you apply biblical love friend love is described in first Corinthians and by Jesus in order to navigate through your humanness to still maintain healthy relationships? That's the key.
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