The Company We Keep ~ A Book Review

In the most difficult of circumstances, the deepest of friendships will be revealed. This is because, in those trying times, the bonds of that relationship are candidly identified. Those moments dictate that the object of focus at the moment must be the one experiencing the trial and thus, those genuinely interested in the good of their ‘friend’ will remain. However, those who were merely interested in the common interests and motivated by what he or she could get from the friendship will quickly disappear. The laments of such desertions are long and frequent, but they also reveal the frequent mislabeling of what qualifies as a ‘friend.’ The inability to grasp the true depth of biblical friendship has been further distorted not merely by social media as many are quick to claim but by the increased use of technology in general. There exists a certain reality that must be confronted: we have a very little concept of what a biblical friendship is.
Enter Jonathan Holmes, pastor of counseling at Parkside Church in Cleveland (the church that houses both lead teaching pastor Alistair Begg and his ministry, Truth for Life). In this brief book published by Cruciform Press Holmes tackles the issue of friendship with clarity, conviction, and precision. Holmes says much in those few pages hoping to demonstrate both what God’s design for biblical friendship is and initiate steps that can aid in generating the kinds of friendships that should exist among believers. The author doesn’t merely put forth an exhortation to engage in fellowship but instead offers a very clear distinction between what he calls biblical fellowship and biblical friendship. He also does not tell readers only what biblical friendship is, but goes further to describe the character traits of biblical friendship and the threats. As a result, the book as a whole can be summed up with two points:
  1. God’s Design: First, Jonathan Holmes has done very well to lay out the biblical framework for God’s design for friendships, identifying main characteristics of it (constancy, candor, carefulness, counsel), and urging believers to maintain a godly conception of friendship.
  2. Man’s Distortion: Additionally, Holmes lays out the impact sin has on friendships, both from its insertion into creation at the fall and with the identification of modern threats (such as sin, lack of understanding of the gospel, false expectations, and something he calls the homophobia bogeyman).
These points, combined with Scripture (mostly from Proverbs) helps readers to understand the depths of biblical friendship.
There are some great qualities about this book that make it an important read:
  • Simply Short: The book is 124 pages and six-chapters, and that brevity makes it an accessible book for every person in a time-strapped culture.
  • Steeped in Scripture: While there are times in which I wish the author would have cited Scripture or explained how certain truths informed some of his broad claims (especially when describing the purposes of friendship in chapter one) he is quick to put the emphasis on God’s worth and highlight points that a casual reading of the Word will overlook.
  • Specifically Stated: Finally, the points that Holmes draws attention to can be appreciated because he says many things that either most of us do not have the platform to say or puts into words thoughts that many of us have been unable to formulate.
As a result, the book is a quick and easily understood read that is worth the investment of time for believers.
I picked up this book at the suggestion of a friend who recommended I go through it and review it. I read it in one sitting on the first day and then came back next week and read it again. As a result of reading The Company We Keep not only was I thankful for the things that Jonathan Holmes brings to light, but I was a bit astounded by how his points provide an interesting assessment of the culture (especially the current culture I am engaged with in the Latin American culture). As a result, I would urge people to pick it up and read it intently, and from it learn that we should not be content with meaningless relationships, but instead put forth the effort for meaningful relationships, with the purpose of pointing to God (although know that it comes at a great risk: vulnerability).
To pick up a copy of The Company We Keep by Jonathan Holmes, click here.