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  • Writer's pictureJessica Head

Friendish -- Book Review

In today's culture, we hear phrases like "She's my person" or "He just gets me" when discussing the topic of friendship. Many of these expressions are the result of hit television shows, bestseller books, or current music trends. But what does the Bible have to say about friendship? What is God's purpose for friendship, and how do we reclaim some of the warped thinking that has infiltrated our brains?

Kelly Needham answers these questions and more in her new book, Friendish. When I first saw her posting about her upcoming book release on Instagram, I was intrigued. I have only read one other book on biblical friendship and well…it was fluffy. It was filled with sweet stories but lacked a solid, scriptural foundation. This is no such book. Filled with robust theology and scripture, Kelly tackles the counterfeit mirage of shallow, Christian friendship and lays the framework for a deep, true, and biblical one.

Let's think back to our childhood, shall we? I imagine most of us can recall a memory of not getting invited to a particular birthday party or being rejected by the popular kids at school. Even as adults, we aren't immune to feeling left out. Not getting invited to lunch after church can send us into a spiral of thinking, "Do my friends love me? Are they even my friends at all?" This line of questioning shows us that we have taken the gift of friendship and made it an idol. It shows us that we have a counterfeit view on friendship – one that replaces Jesus.

"As soon as a friendship begins to foster dependence on and loyalty to one another above Christ, it becomes dangerous. As soon as a friend is meeting needs in us only God should meet, it becomes idolatry. As soon as friendship loses the ability to lovingly point out the sin that keeps us from Jesus, it becomes a hindrance, not a help. As soon as we put ourselves at the center of friendship rather than Jesus, we have misused friendship all together." – [1]

Having friends is not a bad thing. After all, friendship was God's idea. We see numerous examples of close companionship in the Bible – Jonathon and David, Ruth and Naomi, Jesus and his disciples. But our most intimate companion, the one who will never leave or forsake us, the one who died to reconcile us back to the Father – this friend is Christ.

"Most of our problems in friendship are a result of searching for right things in wrong places. We're digging for treasure in treasureless fields. No matter how hard we look, friendship will always turn up empty. But there is a treasure to be found, a perfect love that transcends all of life's trials and tribulations. There is a relationship, a friendship, that can save us. Jesus affirms that in John 17: 3, "And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." Jesus made it clear that eternal life is found in relationship. And it's not a relationship with our friends, with our spouses, or with our kids, but with God himself." [2]

Another counterfeit that Needham tackles in her book is how friendship can often mimic marriage. ABC's Grey's Anatomy originated the famous phrase "You're my person" when describing the bond of Meredith Grey and Christina Yang. This phrase covers the front of coffee mugs, greeting cards, and the like. And trust me, they aren't the only ones looking for a soul mate BFF; I have been guilty of this before. But what can come as a result of marriage-mimicking friendship is a little sneakier. I remember feeling betrayed in my early college days when one of my closest childhood friends was spending time with a new classmate. I had developed a sense of exclusivity in our friendship and felt righteous in my anger because she was my best friend. But the truth is, we never own our friends, and this sign of jealousy should have been a huge, red flag.

"The Bible brings such clarity on this matter. Romans 1 plainly shows us that disordered loves (love for a friend over love for God) lead to disordered desires." [3]

After dismantling our self-centered view of friendship, Needham helps walk us through God-exalting friendship through the lens of the Gospel. God tells us in Genesis 2:23, "It is not good for man to be alone." and Needham reminds us that this isn't just talking about marriage. There are no lone wolves in the kingdom of God. Our friends deepen our walk with Christ. They rejoice with us in times of joy and grieve with us in times of sorrow. Friends lovingly point out sin and help sharpen us in our sanctification. Friends united in the Gospel remind each other of God's promises for his children. True, biblical friendship makes much of God and less of us.

Friendish is a book I never knew I needed, but I'm so thankful that Kelly was obedient to write it. No matter what stage of life you are in, this book is for you. It will probably be painful to read at times; it was for me. But I truly believe God will use it to transform many people's perceptions of friendship from one that is self-seeking to one that is God-glorifying.

You can purchase Friendish here.


[1] Kelly Needham, Friendish (Nashville,Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2019), 23-24

[2] 6

[3] 65

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