Real Friends Don’t Unfriend Friends on Face Book
“Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them”. So wrote Michael W. Smith from the beginning of the chorus of his most famous song. According to dictionary.com, a friend is “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.” But for my money a great definition is from betterhelp.com. This site says “the definition of a true friend is someone who has your back, no matter what. They watch out for you and ensure you are not in danger. They will never purposely lead you into making decisions that aren't good for you. A true friend will always have your best interest at heart.”
Scripture has a lot to say about friendship as well. For openers, Proverbs 18:24 tells us “there are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” So we see that there are real friends and pseudo friends, people who act like your friend but aren’t really.
Being a friend was definitely important to Jesus. At the end of his time on earth, he says to the twelve men chosen to be his closest companions, “You are my friends if you obey me. I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me” (John 15:14-15).
So from this passage it is obvious that real friends of Jesus know the intimate things of his life. In essence He is free to share anything with them. Isn’t that what we all crave not only from the Lord, but also having that kind of a relationship with other people?
I have been thinking about my friends a lot recently. Two of them have died in the past four months. One of them was a childhood friend who lived in Arizona that I kept in touch with regularly since moving to Texas two years ago. He had a very horrible cancer that even after surgery didn’t stop the onslaught on his body. I still have his last texts where he told me how much he appreciated our friendship. After his death his sister told me that he really loved me. Even writing this brings such sorrow to my heart.
The other friend who past was someone I also knew for decades. Our lives crossed paths many times and we were also on pastoral staff together for a few years. As I reflected on our friendship I remembered a wonderful Scripture he gave me when I was leaving the church where we served. To this day it still carries significant meaning. I also happened to remember that he was someone I requested to take part in my ordination service back in 1988. “Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them”.
But these beautiful reflections I share are only part of the story of friendship. Another more difficult, but important part of being a real friend is found in Proverbs 27:6. “Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”
Real friends not only love you, care about you, share everything on their heart, but they are people willing to confront you about issues detrimental to your life. This is where the test of true friendship comes in.
In this year of pandemics, protest, and politics, real friendship is being tested all the time. Many of my friends, people that I truly care about and that I would do anything for them if asked, have shared much on Face Book that I have found at times offensive, angrily inappropriate, and even flat out untrue. Of course if asked, many of them would say the same about what I post.
Here is the rub. If we are real friends then we should be able to get past these huge differences. We should be able to express our thoughts, opinions, and beliefs without it affecting our relationship.
I have seen often on many political and talk shows where the people there can sometimes go after each because they disagree so vehemently. But you also hear them talk fondly about those same people in other segments. This shows that you can truly love and care about each other while disagreeing to the point of saying you are wrong.
But in this unprecedented year of 2020, it seems that our flesh nature has taken over to the point where we feel if our views don’t line up 100% of the time, then you can’t be my friend anymore. How can this happen when we all have the same Spirit living in us?
My dear brothers and sisters, let us strive to maintain our relationships even in the midst of divergent views on crucial issues facing our country and society. We are family, with the same blood running through us. Jesus told us a new commandment he was giving that we should always love one another. This new commandment has not or will not change. We don’t unfriend friends on Face Book because of disagreements. Real friends don’t do that because “Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them.”