“Thirty seconds!” warned the floor manager, as I sat in a TV studio opposite the host, seconds away from going live on air, as he flicked through the pages of my book quizzically. I had done my research on him and had watched a few YouTube clips of him unpicking the statements of unsuspecting guests. My mouth was dry, my heart was pounding as we came back from commercial break and went live.

I’m joined today by Phil Knox” he introed, who thinks that we need to talk more about friendship, and that the example of Jesus might have some things to teach us…” I took a deep sigh, bracing myself for an attack on the whole premise of the book, but was pleasantly surprised, when he continued, Phil, I think you’re right.”

What I discovered that day, and continue to do so in the many days since, is that the world is so desperate for a conversation about friendship that they will even have an evangelical Christian talk about it! I’ve been blown away by the openness to the conversation and the power of the felt need. That TV interview was just one of many on-screen, radio, national newspaper and podcast appearances” I have done since the launch of The Best of Friends in February, and each has created an opportunity to not only talk about friendship, but how, in Jesus, we can know the best of friends, the one who demonstrates no greater love than laying down His life. 

In a church context, there are also lots of signs of hope. I get regular emails from churches preparing to speak on friendship or start a sermon series, many are using The Best of Friends small group material. I spoke at a conference last week of a large social justice charity reprioritising the role of friendship at the heart of their ministry. I recently preached at a large, growing church on a Sunday, and the leader enthusiastically expressed the desire of the church to press deeper into the subject matter. For the sake of discipleship, evangelism, unity and leaders in the church, we must keep raising the volume of this conversation.

"... in Jesus, we can know the best of friends, the one who demonstrates no greater love than laying down His life."

So, for lots of reasons, we will be continuing to elevate this vital subject matter on the agenda of the church and society. The loneliness in our society is not going away any time soon. Isolation for leaders remains a pressing and concerning problem. The news headlines still tell a story of fractures and divisions across our nation. And yet, Jesus is still the answer. He invites us to know and be known by Him, but also then to extend that invitation of friendship to the world. 

I wholeheartedly believe that a connection to the best of friends and investing in relationship with one another is the antidote our lonely and fractured world needs. I am seeing green shoots of growth as churches begin to model and communicate this to the world. Friendship changes everything.

That’s why I’m delighted to introduce this four-part series to you as we celebrate the International Day of Friendship on 30 July. My friend Sheridan Voysey has observed that one of the reasons we suffer as a world in the area of friendship is just plain neglect. We celebrate and elevate romantic relationships to the extent that our music playlists are full of songs about them, but we would struggle to find a handful of chart toppers about friends. We all know the date of St Valentine’s Day, but it’s a struggle to find anyone who knows the significance of 30 July.

So, my prayer for you, over the next few weeks is that God speaks to you through the wisdom of Amy, Liz and Dave, our guest writers in this series. May you know the friendship of He who lays down His life for you, and may you invest afresh in one of His greatest gifts to you. May Jesus’ promise in John 13:35 be true for us today, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”, as together we make Jesus known.

"I wholeheartedly believe that a connection to the best of friends and investing in relationship with one another is the antidote our lonely and fractured world needs."


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