Friendship is a basic and vital human relationship that forms the social fabric of our lives. It is in and through friendships that we discover our identity, gain our sense of value and place in the world, and learn what it means to participate in community. … friendships aid the development of our self-identity. Through friendships, we discover where we want to go in life and how we should relate with others and with God. Friends help us to recognize one another and the world.
John Swinton, Raging with Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil
Here’s another insightful quote from John Swinton’s Raging with Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil:
Sin, evil, and suffering … are secondary realities, intruders into the goodness of the world. As such they require, indeed demand, to be resisted in faith and hope rather than resigned to with stoicism and despair. Goodness is our original state …. The turn towards evil drags us into a state that is alien to the desired purposes of the creator. The presence of evil separates us not only from God, but also from our true selves. As such it needs to be strongly resisted. Resistance relates to the faithful participation in Christ’s redemptive movement in the world now and in the future. Evil is that which blocks and fragments Christ’s work of reclamation, restoration, and redemption and prevents human beings from experiencing the loving presence of God in and for the world.
Because of [faith], you freely, willingly, and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace.
Thus Martin Luther in ‘An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans’, quoted by John Swinton, Raging with Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil. Swinton goes on to say that:
Faith … is countercultural. It is not a work of reason; indeed, it is not something that, on their own, human beings can achieve at all. It is an act of God’s grace wherein a person learns what it means to live in the power of the Holy Spirit and to love God in all things, even in suffering.
n his concluding observations to Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier’s Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness, John Swinton notes that ‘Vanier continues to draw our attention to fear as a source of violence. Perfect love overcomes fear, but fear turns us in on ourselves and opens us to the possibility of violence’.