Sunday, September 15, 2019

He Calls Me Friend: The Healing Power of Friendship In a Lonely Word

I had never before read anything written by John Perkins and only heard him mentioned tangentially in a Switchfoot song, “The Sound” (“John Perkins said it right, Love is the final fight”).  He Calls Me Friend is a retrospective of John Perkins’ life, stories relating to aspects of friendship, and quotes from songs and books. John Perkins follows the lives of Abraham, Moses, and David and uses their examples to show how being a friend of God gives us insight to being friends with others. 

The 2nd part of the book concentrates on Jesus and what it means for men (and women) to have and be friends, to invite people into our lives to be friends, to have friends who fill the place of brothers and sisters, and to be friends to the end.  Jesus shows us what it means to be friends with prostitutes, thieves, and the outsider, to be friends with those who are not like us. John Perkins calls us to task.  Instead of seeing a group of people and keeping away from them, we are to see individuals created in the image of God and befriend them.  We need to make space to get to know those who are not like us.

The 3rd section of the book involves friendship with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the personal presence of God within us so that we can know God. “. . . [T]he Holy Spirit uses circumstances in our lives to cause us to cry out to God and to seek His will and His purposes. He makes us desperate for God’s will in our lives.”  He uses our senses and affects us in a way that cannot be forgotten.  He reconciles disparate people and gives us boldness. 

Indeed, the fruit of the Spirit is one fruit in different aspects.  All of these aspects are part of our friendship with the Holy Spirit and are part of what we need to be friends with others:  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

The final part of the book is Friendship with Others.  Such friendship may be based on mutual need.  It can cross cultural and ethnic lines as well as economic strata.  But friendship can also be mentoring.  A mentor friend can draw us into deeper friendship, nurture us, and speak when they see us heading in a wrong direction.  They can teach us and encourage and love us.  And we can be teachers, encouragers, and lovers, also.

We are challenged to make friends with others, to pursue them, to focus on being a friend rather than having friends.  Forgive and don’t give up.  John Perkins says that any friend can be a better friend if we don’t give up.  Friendship means being with people, spending time just talking or attending events.  Friendship means participating in activities together.  Being a friend bears fruit. 
This book is an encouraging word to anyone who wants friends or wants to take friendship deeper.  It’s short and easy to read.  In other words, this is a book for everyone.