Friendship Advent Reflection, Day 7
Have you ever had a friend who was a little creepy? When my students read Plutarch's "How to Tell a Flatterer from a Friend," they tell me that his description of the flatterer really does creep them out. Plutarch describes the kind of friend who always says nice things, tells you what you want to hear, and is constantly grooming you for favors. Plutarch is offering his advice especially for those who are powerful or influential, the kind of people who may attract a number of false-friends, hangers on, and groupies who are simply out to manipulate them. Throughout his essay, he constantly is describing how to tell the difference between a flatterer and a friend. One way that you know you have a true friend is when they tell you a truth you may not want to hear, but may need to hear. Friends manage to tell you those things gently but firmly, not putting you down, but building you up. Do you have any flatterers in your life? Can you have also friends who tell you what you need to hear? Do you find ways to gently tell the people you care about things they may need to hear? How do you balance criticism with love? As we enter the Holidays, folks' nerves are often on edge, frayed, and exhausted. How will you offer truth--and love--to those who simply need a friend in their moments of brokenness and vulnerability?
For those of you who have hung with me throughout this week, thank you. We are now done with the philosophers. Tomorrow, in the second week of Advent, we will turn to look at how the historical Jesus understood friendship and community in ways that are radically different from the Greeks.
Each day of advent, from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25, I plan to post a few thoughts on an aspect of friendship I learned while writing my book, Virtuous Friendship: The New Testament, Greco-Roman Friendship Language, and Contemporary Community, available on Amazon through this link. This will be a chance for me to share with you all a little bit from what I learned, while giving you, hopefully, a chance to take a deep breath during this busy season and do some reflection. Also, you won't have to secure another resource for Advent. I realize that you are all at many different places with regard to faith and belief, so use these reflections however you see fit. If you'd be interested in having me come speak at your church, lead a Bible Study, or even just Zoom or Skype in for a Q&A with a Sunday School class or other small group, let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.