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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

22 October 2014: Rev'd Chris Williams, St Mary’s, Liss

A sad statistic

A recent survey by Relate rather shockingly suggests that as many as 10% of people in the UK don’t have a single friend to turn to. This sad statistic translates into nearly 5 million adults who are, in effect, friendless.

Friendship is a wonderful gift and those of us who have friends will know the life-changing benefits of having them. Unlike family relationships, friends are, in a sense, voluntary: if things go pear-shaped we can simply walk away. That is why friendships may need more care to nurture and maintain – but there is nothing like a long-term friendship that has endured ups and downs, but which still remains strong. Of course, many of those without friends may have known close friendships in the past but have lost them due to bereavement of simply not looking after the relationship well enough.

There is a rather shocking passage in the Gospel of John in the Bible where Jesus calls us his friends. This may challenge many people’s concept of God. This may be because it seems a bit too informal or maybe folk think that if God is all-knowing and therefore ‘knows all about me’, that he certainly would not choose to be their friend. And yet, the wonderful fact of the matter is that he does. He really does.

While I acknowledge the very real pain of loneliness and friendlessness, there is someone who is willing and wanting to be our friend – and, despite our best efforts, Jesus has promised he will never walk away.


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