Friendship, Facebook, and me

friendFacebook- some hate it, some love it. I am one of those in the second category. Can it be a time waster? Yes, indeed. Can it be addictive? Yes, again. Is it a great way to connect with people? In my opinion, yes, too!  My friends, far and near, take time to publish photos and share stories from life. Our church has a ‘virtual prayer room’ on Facebook, where members (it is a private site to protect confidentiality) can request that others pray. I love to see a request posted and within moments see people promising to pray. I enjoy catching up with acquaintances from the past and ministry associates in this way. It’s fun and keeps me connected with people that I would otherwise seldom, if ever, see in person.

The virtual connection can never replace flesh and blood friendships. I have some good friends who are missionaries based in Fiji and we stay in touch online. It’s good to know what they are up to in their ministry. But, there is no way a Facebook post will ever replace a shared meal; laughing together, being around each other. Yet I am convinced that the virtual tie enhances the living one.

Why do we enjoy connections?

God made us to be social! The circle of friends in our lives steady us, encourage us, and help us to avoid that sense of meaninglessness that so often accompanies anonymity.  Real and living social interaction keeps us healthy- physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  The Proverbs reminds us that “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” (Proverbs 17:17, NLT)  An ancient philosopher is reputed to have said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.” – Aristotle

Friendships do not simply form and sustain themselves. Like all things of value, they must be cultivated, protected, and strengthened by investment of time and energy.  Are you building friendships?  Are you forming and nurturing connections with other people?

A healthy Christian cannot be a Lone Ranger, even though he realizes that relationships can be trying as well as a blessing. He will not give in to misunderstandings or hurt feelings. Jesus said, “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:35, The Message) The quality of that love is such that relationships take priority over convenience, work obligations, and even personal feelings! We are committed to one another.

Paul’s prime illustration for the Christian’s connection to others is the human body. My body is a collection of limbs and organs, different parts, still – a unit- each part critical to the function of the whole! Of Christians he says – “You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.” … “But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. … Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”?”  …  A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together.” (1 Corinthians 12 The Message)

Let’s be friends – real, loving, deeply connected with others. You might think you’re strong, not really in need of others at this time. Let me tell you from personal experience – the time will come, sooner or later, when you will need others. I cannot imagine how I would have lived through the suffering, sorrow, and loss of the past two years without the amazing friends that have stood with me, cried with me, help me together, and reminded me of the goodness of God when my world fell apart.

Here is a word from the Word.  “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10-12, NLT)
___________________

Heavenly Father, I praise you today
for creating the Church,
for calling me to know the
joy of serving alongside of others who love You.

Help us, Lord, to stay connected.
Fill us with love; make us patient;
teach us to ‘give up’ ourselves to serve the needs of others.

Make your Glory known through Your Church –
in our holy, loving, relationships. 

Renew our desire for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
so that we will do the work of Your Kingdom
in a way that is powerful, effective, and fulfilling.
We pray all of this in the Name of Jesus Christ
who called us into His Body.  Amen

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