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Faithful Friends in a Facebook World
By Kristi Johnson
In today’s society, the word friend is often used as a verb. Facebook has taught us that, right? We often say, “Can you friend me?” or “I was friended by three people this week.” Maybe we should also be using the word friend as a verb in our non-virtual lives.
So, what does it mean to truly friend someone? And how can we make these friendships last longer than some of our Facebook friendships that appear out of nowhere and get hidden soon after. We need to build friendships that will endure not only for a Facebook minute but for a lifetime. Let’s look to the Scriptures for some examples of friends who were faithful.
Moses and Aaron
Click on Moses’ profile to see how he and Aaron showed us a good example of a partnership with their friendship. In Exodus 4, after Moses identified inadequate speech as his greatest weakness, God sent Aaron to assist him with leading the Hebrew slaves to freedom.
Have you ever felt inadequate when asked to speak? Maybe it was a devotion shared with a ladies’ group. Or maybe it was teaching a Sunday School class with energetic eight-year-olds. Or possibly it was just sharing your faith in a spontaneous conversation with a friend over coffee. Do you remember how you felt? Maybe you didn’t know which words to use, or how to put them together to say what your heart was feeling.
God has often used friends to give me the words I needed to speak when unsure of myself or feeling like Moses: “not eloquent.” While Facebook posts offer a lot of help, God has used my real-life friends over the years to be that mouth. Many times, I have found wisdom in talking to a friend such as my missionary teammate in Spain, Lea Edgmon. Time and time again her wisdom has helped me think through situations and gain insight into what I needed to say. God used her to fill my mouth with the words I needed to share. She’s been my Aaron, taking over in my weakness and showing the true partnership of a friend.
Can you think of a friend (or friends) who have partnered with you when you felt inadequate? Spend some time thanking God for them, and then take a moment to send them a quick note, email, or Facebook message to let them know how much you appreciate them.
David and Jonathan
What if we could friend David or Jonathan? In 1 Samuel 18:3-4, we learn they modeled a friendship rarely seen in today’s society. David and Jonathan had a sacrificial friendship. When someone loves as his own soul, he or she commits to doing the very best for that person. Looking out for them. Thinking of them before self. In the Facebook world, we try to make ourselves look good. What can I post that will get more “likes”? Rarely do we look out for someone else. But Jonathan defied the Facebook frenzy when he made friends with an unlikely person—the man God had appointed to take Jonathan’s seat on the throne of Israel.
As the rest of the story unwinds throughout the books of Samuel, we learn Jonathan and David’s friendship was forged even deeper, often by troubled times. And, in the end, that friendship lasted beyond Jonathan’s death, when David went out of his way to be kind to Mephibosheth, one of Jonathan’s heirs.
Many things could have kept these two men from being friends. Jonathan was a prince, David a shepherd. Jonathan was probably around 50 years old, while David was likely in his 20s. But they found a common bond in their love for God and their faith in Him. They remained faithful to each other, despite many obstacles that could have separated them.
Jesus and You (and Me)
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). This is probably a familiar verse to you but take a few moments to read it out loud. Ponder each phrase. Read it again. Let each word wash over your soul. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Nothing. We can go nowhere He won’t be with us—not even in the darkest places in our own minds where we sometimes allow ourselves to fall. Even there, He is our Friend.
Our greatest example of friendship is Jesus Christ. He loved us so much He gave His life for us. How many of us can say this of our earthly friendships? How many of us are willing to give up our own comfort, our free time, our desires, our resources for a friend in need?
Do you have a friend in your life who could use your help right now? Why not stop reading this article and spend some time in prayer asking God to show you how you can help him or her in a way that is meaningful. And follow up with your friend this week. John 15:13 reminds us, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). What are you willing to lay down for a friend this week?
Five Ways to Have Faithful Friendships
1. Walk with friends through the good and bad times. When I was in my 20s, my husband Tim and I lived in Nashville, Tennessee, and rented a duplex apartment from Bert and Dianne Tippett. We were newlyweds. They were grandparents. Many mornings, Mrs. Tippett and I walked together. We both had busy schedules, so it had to happen very early. We braved the cold temperatures and dark streets to get in our exercise. I found the old Hebrew saying to be true: “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” Mrs. Tippett was not only a good companion during our dark morning walks, she was also a friend faithful to listen, give advice, and mentor me as a young wife in the early days of marriage and ministry. Two ladies. Two different generations. One friendship that has impacted me deeply over the years.
2. Use the “like” button whenever possible. Encourage! Encourage! Encourage! Our words of affirmation can change lives. One small I love you or I appreciate you goes a long way.
3. Take the time to build deep relationships, even if it requires sacrifice. Jonathan loved David, even with the knowledge that David would take his place as the next king of Israel. Swallowing his own pride and ambitions, he loved David with a sacrificial love.
4. When “memories” pop up from the past, take time to look through them. Don’t you love seeing photos from three, four, or five years ago come up in your Facebook feed? It reminds you of that wonderful meal at Christmastime, how much your kids or grandkids have changed, or the special moment you shared with a friend. These memories are a part of what make friendships so special. We all need to take time to look back at God’s goodness to us through the years and be thankful for the friends He has given us.
5. Don’t let the “urgent” get in the way of the “important.” If you have Facebook Messenger, you probably receive notices on your phone when someone sends you a message. It’s tempting to pick up the phone each time it dings, but sometimes, we are with friends who need us to stay focused on them. Let the “important” people in front of you take precedence over the posts or messages that can wait.
The next time you log in to Facebook, remember these simple principles and use them in both your virtual and real-life friendships. Friending someone isn’t a click of a button on your phone, tablet, or laptop, but a continual daily commitment to being a friend like Jonathan or Aaron or even Jesus himself.
About the Writer: Kristi Johnson and her husband, Tim, have spent 20 years in Spain serving as church planters with IM, Inc. Kristi enjoys coffee with friends, great bargains on sale racks, and capturing the world through the lens of her camera. But her all-time favorite pastime is being with Tim, Alejandro, and Ana while they explore new cities and exciting foods.