Facebook & Friends
A friend loves at all
and a brother is born for adversity.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:6
Greater love has no one
than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you
do what I command. John 15:13-14
Joe added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to
confirm that you know Joe in order for you to be friends on Facebook.
This is the message one
receives when someone requests to be added as a friend on Facebook. As I
mentioned earlier, the average Facebook account about has 100 friends. Many
have much higher friend totals. What is a friend? A Facebook friend is anyone whom you are willing to give
permission to view your Facebook page, your "wall." That is one way
to define a friendship. Others, in pragmatic, informal ways define friendship
according to life experience. So a friend could be someone who is always there
for you. But what does “always there for you” mean? Does it mean someone who never criticizes or
corrects you? Does it mean someone who only says good things about you? Does it
means someone who will always listen? Or is a friend any casual acquaintance
from a social networking site?
Rather than look at all the
various ways friendship is defined in our culture, let’s take a brief look at
what the Bible says about friendship. While much that could be said, the three
passages above provide a good starting point. For the purpose of this
discussion, note that each principle builds upon the previous one.
First – Starting with the
last passage, note that Jesus Christ defines friendship. So a friend is one who
will lay his life down, both literally and figuratively, for you. That is
commitment. Remember that mankind would not even be able to understand the
concept of friendship apart from God. Friendship did not originate from man as
he progressed up the evolutionary ladder. Friendship reflects the image of God
that formed the pattern for human character from the very instant of his
creation. God is the model for all true friendships.
Since Jesus himself defines
and models friendship, then it follows that it is wise to have friends who are also
friends of Jesus. While we acknowledge the role of grace in our relationship
with God, John records that we are friends with Christ if we do what he
commands. So, it is a good idea to look for friends who are friends with
Christ. How do I know that people are friends with Christ ? If they obey his commands. If someone does not
consciously choose to be friends with Christ by obedience to his ways, that
person, from God's perspective, will not be a good friend to you.
Second – a friend will show
sacrificial love to you at all times. People will often help each other,
especially if it is convenient to do so. But this principle sets the standard
much higher. True friendship will always cost something and will often be inconvenient.
But that is what helps define friendship, and such friendship is rare. This is
friendship that gives without expecting anything back. This is friendship that
goes beyond saying Well, you would have done the same thing for me.
Third – a friend is one who
recognizes your weaknesses and will lovingly tell you about them. As the proverb says, the kisses of an enemy
are profuse. If you a have relationship with someone who only praises you
regardless of what you do, that person is not your friend. A true friend will
deliver faithful wounds. In part, this happens because a true friend loves
Jesus more than he loves you. Our struggles with sin are real and, sadly,
ongoing. Someone who does not recognize this reality in you is either
misleading you or is selfishly avoiding the difficult task of telling you what
you need to hear.
These three principles make
up essential components of authentic friendship. It may be possible for some to
show elements of the 2nd or 3rd principles. But only a
true friend can demonstrate all three.
So what is a friend? The
culture around us, including the online communities, may define friendships in
differing ways. But true, authentic ,friendship is rooted in these biblical
principles. Talk about them with your children, with your circle of friends,
with those in your social network, with your spouse. Most importantly, talk
about them with God and ask him for the courage and wisdom to pursue authentic
friendships that will encourage you to know the most genuine of all friends –
This post concludes this
series on Facebook. I pray that it has been helpful to you. Thanks for your
responses and comments. Let me know if there is more you would like to see addressed
in this area.