Time to share an idea. When I was a young pup in the topic of vocation, I thought Luther missed an important one: friendship. Now “I can see clearly now the rain has gone,” and I have an idea to share. 🙂
I think a dozen or so Lutheran writers should write about friendship, but not in light of what so many others have done. Frankly, I think modern society may be getting as confused about friendship as it is about sex.
As to how serious a thing this is, I suppose that depends. On one hand, although I’ll admit this sounds dramatic, friendship is a modern idol often touted as though it replaces and supersedes family. Children’s books are full of friendship. Kid TV can be so focused on it adults are absent entirely! Arguable friendship is emphasized to children more than education, family, and just about anything else. At the same time, what are the ramifications? And, what exactly is being taught about friends and friendship?
I fear we’ve boiled and then desiccated it down to sympathy, joint causes (which has largely replaced conversation and iron whetting iron), and togetherness. Oh, and sharing a birth year! The thing is, Scripture talks about things differently. The Christian worldview turns a lot of assumptions and societal building blocks upside down. Rather, right side up.
Theology informs even friendship. God’s Word reveals even friendship, but we don’t treat it as such. We don’t write books for kiddos clarifying. We don’t even think about it for ourselves. But I think it’d be great: a book centered on two friends that’s shaped by a Lutheran understanding of the vocation of neighbor (or Luther’s category “Common to All” or “Realm of Love”) and Scripture’s depictions and descriptions of friendship.
Instead of the sweet togetherness people idealize, actual souls are bailing out on each other because they think the emotional investment is too high. Seriously? Emotional investment? How many demands are we placing on our relationships? Contemporary fear of commitment has spread to how we interact with our neighbors, whether close in relationship or far! How often are these assumptions undermining our face to face interactions?
I’m not sure why I’m geared up about this. The thing is, Christ and the church have so much to offer. Why not teach share what has been revealed about friendship, too? People are burdened. Everyday. They think they are too constrained to be a friend. Others think they are too burdensome to be a friend. And it’s just not true. 🙂 Thanks be to God.
Allow me to say it another way. Explore vocation of neighbor! Awesome stuff that can shape our writing and the world, as well as our friendships with the love, mercy, and activity of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. And, why not write a book about friendship? Isn’t it among the most common side themes in literature?
I’m not claiming to be a perfect friend or anything. I’m not saying Lutherans corner the market on being good friends by any means. But sometimes friends are not sympathetic. People often disagree, and that’s ok. That’s probably even good! And maybe it’d be really helpful to gives examples of speaking forgiveness and confession, etc. Right? As Lutherans maybe we have additional blessings to share on the subject.