When you write a book on friendship, one of the inevitable questions that relentlessly comes your way is: ‘What makes a good friend?’ For the last few weeks, it has been posed to me privately and publicly, in pubs and at parties, on podcasts and panels. I have fought desperately not to give too simplistic or trite an answer and have thought deeply about it. And I have decided that the best kind of friends look a lot like Easter.

I have two sons. Each week they attend Sunday school at our local church. Occasionally, their enthusiasm and tendency to talk too much (no idea where they get that from) means they miss the question the teacher asks. I have instructed them in this instance to simply put your hand in the air and say, Jesus.’ In my experience, (I was once an enthusiastic and chatty child who missed the question) if they do this, they will be correct 90% of the time. When it comes to answering the question of what a good friend is, Jesus’ death and resurrection give us an excellent framework. Here’s what I see when I look at friendship through the Easter story.

1. Great friendship is sacrificial.

I love social media. On Easter Sunday, if we have enough Christian friends, our Facebook walls will be covered with pictures of empty tombs and rally cries of Death took one hell of a beating.’ At its best, it’s a glorious place to be a good news person. But at its worst, it can give us a dangerous illusion of friendship. To become friends’ with someone on the platform, you just have to click Accept’. But true friendship its extravagantly costly. It demands huge amounts of energy, time, emotion and love.


The gift of authentic friendship is expensive, just like the cross. On His approach to the first Easter weekend, Jesus tells His disciples the price tag of what is to come: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) This is a truth at the heart of Christianity, and it’s also great friendship advice. If you want to be a great friend, ask not what you can get out of your relationships, but what you can give of yourself.

2. Great friendship is intentional.

I am captivated by stories. Great stories have dramatic, pivotal moments. On the storyboard of history, the Easter weekend is not just one such moment, it is the defining event. The plot hinges on this moment. The Author of the story planned it as such. Paul writes in Ephesians 1, In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined, according to the plan, of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purposes of his will.” Jesus’ sacrifice was intentional.

We need to be intentional friends. Life-giving and life-changing friendships don’t just happen. In the busyness of life, against the backdrop of work, family, church, swimming lessons, home improvements, holidays, weddings, funerals, football matches and trying to get enough sleep, time with friends can end up at the bottom of the list. But it is too important to stay there. My encouragement to you is to find a few people to journey with, pursue depth over superficiality and quality over quantity. Be intentional about friendship. I have found that I have to think purposefully about who I spend my time with and with whom I expend my relational energy. As I manage the demands on my time, there are two or three close friends who I make the effort to see each week without fail.

3. Great friendship is invitational.

Easter makes it possible for us to be friends with God. As His arms are outstretched in self-sacrifice on a cruel wooden cross, Jesus is the epitome of true friendship. As His soul cries, It is finished,” Jesus absorbs the power of our sin and selfishness, meaning that reconciliation and relationship are possible with the King of the universe. When crucifixion cannot contain Him, when death is defeated and dare not destroy Him, His resurrection invites us to a new life, free from our frailties and failings, to relationships reborn.

We were created to know and be known. The open arms of Christ on the cross mean the hand of the God of the universe reaches out to us in friendship. His love is invitational. We, made in His image and ambassadors of Him, are compelled to extend that offer of friendship to a world that so desperately needs it. May our relationships be warm and welcoming, but may they always also be open and honest enough to invite the other forward on the next step of the faith journey.

This Easter may you be blown away by the stunning offer of God’s friendship to you. May His example inspire you to better sacrificial and intentional friendship. May we all, as a church, extend this invitation to a world in desperate need of resurrection and reconnection with a Saviour.

This article is part of Phil's series on friendship accompanying his new book – take a look:



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The Best of Friends book

The Best of Friends book

Full of practical advice and wisdom, Phil Knox explores how to cherish and celebrate the most important relationships in your life, and be the best friend you can be.