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C.S. Lewis on the Blessings of Friendship

The other day I posted some of C.S. Lewis’ thoughts on “The Dangers of Friendship” from The Four Loves. But of course, friendship is meant to be a blessing, and he had a lot to say about that in the same book.

Lewis celebrated the freedom of friendship. “I have no duty to be anyone’s Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine,” he wrote. “No claim, no shadow of necessity.” But he understood that freedom in the context of God’s will, at work to bring us blessings, and to make us better in the process.

Christ, who said to the disciples “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends “You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing.

Friendship is a unique kind of love, he wrote, distinct from the romantic or other kinds. “We picture lovers face to face but Friends side by side; their eyes look ahead,” he wrote. “That is why those pathetic people who simply ‘want friends’ can never make any. The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends.” Friendship must be about something, he said — some common interest, “even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travelers.


The common quest or vision which unites friends does not absorb them in such a way that they remain ignorant or oblivious of one another. On the contrary it is the very medium in which there mutual love and knowledge exist. One knows nobody so well as one’s “fellow.” … If, at the outset, we had attended more to him less to the thing which our Friendship is “about,” we should not have come to know or love him so well. You will not find the warrior, the poet, the philosopher or the Christian by staring in his eyes as if he were your mistress: better fight beside him, read with him, argue with him, pray with him.

There’s much more there than I can recap here, and it’s all rewarding reading. But this much is a good start, both to appreciate the true friendships you have and to evaluate whether some of your relationships are friendships.

Does this spark any thoughts?

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About the Author

Matt Kaufman

Matt Kaufman has been a columnist for Boundless since the site’s founding in 1998, and did a stint as editor in 2002-2003. He’s also a former staffer and current contributing editor for Focus on the Family Citizen magazine. Matt is a freelance writer/editor who spent some years in Colorado, but gave up the mountains for the cornfields: He now lives in his hometown of Urbana, home of the University of Illinois. His house is a five minute drive from the one where he grew up, and he enjoys daily walks around the park where he used to play baseball.

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