There is a distinct difference between a Facebook friend and a faithful one.
In the pursuit of a quick and easy, ‘broadband’ lifestyle where everything is available according to our needs when we want it, at our convenience, faithful friendships are hard to find. They can’t be downloaded in a second, they can’t be bought with a price, they are not for sale and come with no money-back guarantee.
Faithful friends are a gift from God.
In Luke 10 we can see from the way Jesus answers a question about charity with the parable of the Good Samaritan that what matters is not so much ‘who will be my friend’ but ‘what kind of friend will I be to others’
So, a faithful friend is 4-dimensional
A faithful friend sticks around through thick and thin. A faithful friend is not easily scared off by failure, bored by the mundane or looking for a better offer somewhere else. A faithful friend is not fickle, short-lived or only temporarily loyal. A faithful friend is with you for the long haul.
(A Facebook friend is here today but may ignore you tomorrow, in one click of a button you can be deselected, uninvited and quickly forgotten.)
A faithful friend goes beyond the superficial. A faithful friend knows how to share their deepest feelings, doubts, hopes, ambitions, failings. Eventually, there are no subjects that have to be avoided, no awkward silences. A faithful friend has nothing to hide and is not afraid to let someone into their world.
(A Facebook friend is another notch on the door of life, another head to count on your profile, another mere observer of whatever status you are willing to share. A message can be ignored, a mask can be worn and if life is not going well, who needs to log in?)
A faithful friend is not trying to develop narrow, exclusive friendships. Instead, there is room for others to share in the joy, fun and sincerity of a strong friendship. A faithful friendship is warm and strong enough to welcome others in. A faithful friend is not jealous, clinging onto special knowledge or parading their friendship with arrogance, pride or selfishness.
(A Facebook friendship can be wide – many people can know who your ‘friends’ are on Facebook and even read some of your dialogue between them. Here, FB friendships make room for others – just still on a weak and superficial level.)
A faithful friend points you towards God, inspires you with encouragement, hope and the truths of God’s grace and purpose. A faithful friend points you upward, magnifies God and urges you to walk closer with Him. A faithful friend cannot simply observe your life going on – they are compelled to spur you on to ‘love and good deeds’.
(A Facebook friend can just sit back, observe your life, watch pictures of your life go by and need never comment on your life, nor your relationship with God…)