Jonathan serves at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio as the Pastor of Counseling. He graduated with degrees in Biblical Counseling and History from The Master’s College and a master’s degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Jonathan and his wife, Jennifer, are parents of three beautiful daughters, Ava, Riley, and Ruby. Jonathan also serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. I’m grateful to Jonathan for his willingness to explain the world of Biblical Counseling to a child and adolescent psychiatrist with one foot in academia. Here’s his post…
I learned something valuable about friendship from my daughter.
A few weeks ago my two oldest daughters and I were at our local library. As any parent knows, going to the library with kids can be a bit stressful. As you juggle piles of Bernstein Bear and Fancy Nancy books, clean up dishelved copies of other books avoid judging stares from the librarians all while all while telling them to “shhhh…”
On this particular day near the activity area, there was a sweet little girl in full leg braces and a walker in the corner. As the she carefully placed animal puzzle pieces into their respective places, I hurriedly tried to strategize in my mind how to keep my two girls away from her as not to bother her or embarrass her. Truth be told, I realize in hindsight I was more afraid and embarrassed than I would venture she ever was.
Before words could come out of my mouth, my sweet and friendly daughter Ava had gone over to introduce herself. In the space of seconds, she had asked her what her name was (Hannah), what grade she was in (pre-K), and why she was in leg braces (unknown). As Hannah’s mother kindly looked on, I nervously re-ordered the pile of books I had accumulated.
As time went on and the girls happily became enveloped in their world of princesses, puzzles and giggles, I relaxed and took a deep breath. There was no awkwardness now, just the fun whispers of girl-to-girl chatter.
As we walked out of the library, Ava looked up excitedly saying, “I can’t believe I made a new friend!” In the coming weeks, she would tell me she had seen Hannah at her school (they’re a year apart) and had waved at her. Every once in a while, sweet Hannah will come into our conversation, and Ava will remind me of the friend she met at the library that summer day.
Reflecting back, I’m so thankful for my daughter’s kind heart and gracious outreach. Hannah’s mom told me that day not many kids reach out to her because she has disabilities. In that moment, I realized how simple, yet profound friendship can be in the life of a child. It can brighten one’s day, put a smile on one’s face and in the best of ways it can soften shame, alleviate stigma and lift spirits.
That day my daughter taught me to enter into other people’s worlds with love and care. You don’t need to have fancy words or a planned out monologue…sometimes the simplicity of “Hello, I’m Ava” is all you need to begin a friendship.
You see that is exactly what Christ does to us when he calls us into friendship with himself. In some of the most life-changing words ever spoken, Jesus says to the disciples in John 15:15, “No longer do I call you servants…but I have called you friends…” Think on that for a moment. The Son of God, Immanuel, comes to us and calls us friends. Could there be any sweeter message? Any kinder outreach?
With this new friendship comes great opportunity and responsibility. With each outreach of friendship we actually tell the story of the gospel to an unbelieving world. With each encouragement to pursue others in friendship we communicate the love of Christ to people in desperate need of such community and relationship. Even recently, the need for friendships in the church has been expounded here at this blog.
It was with these thoughts in mind that I wanted to write a book on the topic of friendship. The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship, is a short, yet accessible book designed for parents, ministry leaders, small group participants—really anyone who desires a biblical theology and practice of friendship.
This is also why I love the work of Key Ministry. I know at the core of Key Ministry is a desire to see children loved, cared for and friended in Christ.
Is it possible friendship exists for a greater purpose than my enjoyment and comfort? Is friendship more than just having some people to hang out with on a weekend, participating in a book club, or hitting the golf course together?
These questions and more are answered in Jonathan Holmes’ new book, The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship. Biblical friendship is first and foremost about a relationship with Jesus Christ. As you are brought into friendship and relationship with the Father, Jesus Christ calls you a friend! It is out of this friendship, that our human friendships find their beginning and their purpose.
Available through Cruciform Press.