What are friends for?
'I have no duty to be anyone's Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, […] It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.'
– CS Lewis (from The Four Loves)
Need all the friends you can get?
As the nights get darker and the group chat with your mates back home gets quieter, feelings of loneliness and homesickness peak amongst first-year students. If you're still meeting new people or struggling to feel at home with flat mates who aren’t-quite-yet soul mates, it can feel like you need all the friends you can get!
Or already found your tribe?
Maybe you’re a second or a third year settling back into life on campus. Maybe you feel like you don't need any more friends – you're loving life with the ones you've found at uni!
But here’s the truth about friendship: it isn’t about what you need.
It’s voluntary, and that’s what makes it valuable.
So whether you’re a fresher or a returning student, how are you thinking about friendships? And how could you enjoy the gift of friendship with others?
1. Be a real friend
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
– Proverbs 17:17
Freshers can be tough, and good friends help get you through. How can you best love the people around you and form good friendships?
First, remember people’s names! Say them a couple of times in conversations so you don’t forget. Be the one that initiates conversations with others. If everything and everyone is new to you too, be confident in your identity in Christ: you don’t need to fake it to fit in or be accepted. People trust honesty, and it keeps doors open to share your faith naturally during your time at uni.
2. Be a wise friend
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.
– Matt 11:19
Jesus didn’t meet evangelistic projects, he met people, and treated them with God-given value and worth.
He lived that out in the way he connected with them, and connected their lives to the gospel.
He didn’t spend all of his time with people who were like him but made friends with lots of different people – and often the ones who might not seem like the wisest choice!
Don’t make friendships just for the sake of evangelism. But equally, don’t end up in a bubble with only friends from CU. Step out, be wise and share life with lots of different people!
3. Be a Christlike friend
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
– John 15:12-13
This may come as a surprise, but it isn’t a marriage, parenthood or charity work that Jesus says is the greatest expression of love, but friendship.
Jesus commands His disciples to go and give up their lives for their friends. Later in the Gospel, Jesus gives the ultimate demonstration of this kind of love by giving his life for His followers, enabling them to truly come to Him as friends. If this is how Jesus models friendship, then we should be following him, by giving our lives in service of our friends. See your friendships as a way to serve and you won’t go far wrong.
4. Remember your friendship with Jesus
The Creator of the universe has chosen to be your friend!
He volunteered to give his life for yours, as an act of friendship.
That means that we can have total confidence that we are never alone, even amid homesickness and freshers’ flu.
And because we are so loved, protected and secure in our friendship with Jesus, we don’t need our friendships to serve us. Like Jesus we can step out and give ourselves in our friendships.
Because friendship is voluntary it is remarkably valuable.
Simon Attwood is a CU Staff Worker in Glasgow, where he loves having friends over for dinner and helping students get to know Jesus better.