BeFriend: create belonging in an age of judgment, isolation, and fear by Scott Sauls
About this book: (from the publisher) We live in a world where real friendship is hard to find. Suspicious of others and insecure about ourselves, we retreat into the safety of our small, self-made worlds. Now more than ever, it’s easy to avoid people with whom we disagree or whose life experiences don’t mirror our own. Safe among like-minded peers and digital “friends,” we really don’t have to engage with those who can challenge and enhance our limited perspectives. Tragically, even the church can become a place that minimizes diversity and reinforces isolation.
Jesus models a much richer vision of friendship. Scott Sauls, pastor and teacher, invites you to see the breadth of Christ’s love in this book, BeFriend. Join Scott on this journey through twenty-one meditations to inspire actively pursuing God’s love through expanding your circle of friends.
Scott has met too many people whose first impulse is to fence off their lives with relational barriers that only end up starving their own souls.
Yes, it’s true: Real friendship is costly. Love does make us vulnerable. But without risk, our lives will remain impoverished.
Join Scott in BeFriend as he summons you toward diverse friendship that can enrich your life and, in the process, reveal a better version of yourself.
About the author: Scott Sauls is senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville. Before this, he served with Tim Keller at New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church as a lead and preaching pastor. In addition to his books, Scott’s work has been featured in Christianity Today, Relevant Magazine, Qideas, Catalyst, Leadership Magazine, aholyexperience, OnFaith, The Gospel Coalition, Key Life, as well as other publications. Scott can be found on Facebook and Twitter/Instagram at @scottsauls. He also blogs regularly at scottsauls.com.
Genre: Non-fiction/Religion/Christian life/Social Issues
[Tweet “On #BeFriend by @ScottSauls @TyndaleHouse: “the family of God is bigger than my favorite tribe” @ScottyWardSmith “]
Reflection: My husband and I have several friends who choose, very intentionally, to make friendship the center of their Christian ministry. Two such friends are those we visited last summer in Malaysia. Because they live in a Muslim country where it is illegal to proselytize their faith, theirs is often a salt-and-light ministry in which they bear witness to the hope they hold by their actions. Through authentic friendship.
Another pair of friends — my sister-in-law’s parents — decided when they retired to move house to a pretty little mountain town renowned for its Bavarian-themed decor. It is, admittedly, a tourist town, but I’m pretty sure this is a good part of the reason they chose to live out their golden years there. Not despite the tourists that flock through their streets six months of the year, disrupting the town’s calm, but because of them. Being a tourist draw increases this couple’s opportunity to open up their home and their lives to a wide range of people that might not otherwise encounter. This couple has a knack of making real friends out of just about anyone they meet.
I should also note that none of these friends are extroverts (well, one might be). They like their peaceful alone-time as much as any respectable introvert, but their hearts are such that they recognize one of the surest, purest ways to express their deep faith is through kindness and hospitality to every comer. They are some of the most accepting, affectionate people I know while at the same time holding fast to ethical integrity.
This is a beautiful thing and, quite honestly, I think very much what Jesus had in mind when He discipled His followers. He modeled it Himself, showing that the best kind of witness begins with genuine friendship.
These friends I’ve described do naturally what others — especially those who have grown up in a digital, online culture which by its very nature inhibits authentic friendship — might need to be shown another way.
This is, of course, what Scott Sauls’ insightful, incisive book is all about.
Part of BeFriend‘s appeal is that it’s neither ponderous nor preachy. The 21 bite-sized chapters — essays, really — are pithy and to the point. Each easily consumed in one sitting. And incidentally, it’s Scott Sauls’ hope that readers will digest his book either in community or as a personal study. Toward this end, he includes helpful prompts and further Scripture reading with each chapter to facilitate deeper thought on each topic.
For me personally, his chapter on befriending Dysfunctional Family Members provided welcome perspective and balm. So too did his chapters on befriending Those Who Vote Against Us. But I have to say it was his thoughts on befriending Sexual Minorities that gave me the greatest encouragement. In it, he expands on a theme he hits on earlier: grace before ethics. So many of us have gotten off the track by reversing these two, but no one — no one — is drawn to Jesus (or anything else, for that matter) by condemnation. Scott puts it this way:
“It’s not that ethics are unimportant. Ethics are very important. But we can’t talk about ethics in a productive way without the necessary prerequisite of friendship.” (page 79)
BeFriend is worth reading for these chapters alone, for the author’s gracious, outside-the-box provision of a way forward through today’s divisive climate. How I’ve needed that.
Have you? Then I highly recommend you get your hands on this book. You — and your newfound friends — will be grateful you did.
Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me this copy free of charge. All opinions are mine.
After words: Can you think of a time when you’ve seen “friendship ministry” in action? What did you see?