The best friendships can be schools of virtue, but such winsome intimate bonds are difficult to realize in our individualistic, mobile society, now rife with political, racial, and religious division. We prefer Facebook encounters to face-to-face relationships.
Guided by the Gospel of John, fourth-century Christians viewed Jesus as a model friend who loved them without limits and was the empowering source of their friendships, Carolinne White observes. Gail O'Day traces how the ancient ideal of friendship—especially its themes of speaking frankly to one's friends and giving one's life for them—shapes John's narrative.
Caroline Simon describes how friends can help each other see themselves more clearly with insight into one's welfare and destiny before God. As they draw us into their lives, teach us about ourselves, and challenge us to extend the boundaries of our love, Paul Wadell reminds us, we discover a strong love for our friends does not detract from our love for God, but is precisely the setting in which we come to learn what loving God rightly means.
The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to help us explore the biblical narrative and ancient wisdom to retrieve the ideal of friendship and probe its promise for the moral life. The guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.