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Christian Friendships in the Digital Age

By March 19, 2020 March 20th, 2020 No Comments

The age of technology has changed the way our lives work in so many ways. We work online, shop online, get our entertainment online and through social media, chat apps and email, we navigate relationships online too. And while there is nothing wrong with using social media and digital platforms to connect and keep up with people, it seems that virtual friendship is fast outpacing the growth of real, genuine relationships.

With a like here and an emoji there, we create a network of friends that can share in our day to day lives, but is this really what God meant when he created friendship? In searching for the truth from the word of God, I read two distinct parts in the book of Proverbs that give me a clue as to God’s meaning with friendship.

Friendship should be an act of serving others in love

In Proverbs 17:17 (ESV translation), we read that a “friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” This passage speaks of the sacrificial and serving nature of friendship and that God meant for friends to uphold one another.

The thing is that I don’t feel like I’m really friends with all the people on my social media platforms, neither do I create time in my life for every person who sends me an email. I don’t share my deepest sadness and greatest joy and all the conflicting parts of my life online because I have real friends who know me, who know my story and who I trust to be kind and caring.

This level of attachment and intimacy is what we need to love and serve meaningfully. Sure, we can love and serve any person we come in contact with (in certain ways), but to deeply love and faithfully serve the people in our lives, we need to know them, spend time with them and journey through life with them. To “love at all times” and to be “born for adversity” is not a casual act, and that’s exactly why we can’t rely on social media to facilitate our friendships.

Friendship should be painfully honest

Further on in Proverbs (chapter 27:6 -ESV translation), we read this: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” This passage tells us the hard truths about real friendship; it’s not supposed to be flippant or relaxed all the time. Real friendship is supposed to guide us in reflecting Christ more accurately, and if we’re in the wrong, we should be able to trust that our friends will admonish us in love.

That’s another glaringly obvious issue with friendships in the time of social media. It seems to be so anchored in fame and popularity that people don’t address real issues for fear of offending each other and losing face.

When I’ve ventured down the wrong paths, it was never my social media “friends” who came running to pull me back in the right direction. Through hard words, loads of crying and even more praying, my real friends have helped me to see clearly when I have veered off track. And the Bible teaches us that those kinds of life-giving “wounds” are worth more than all the kisses of an enemy.

Here’s what I took away from these passages:

Christ-centred friendships should reflect how He served us and sacrificed Himself for us. Being a true friend means reaching beyond the shallow world of social media and being sacrificial with our time, our energy and our love.

Through genuine relationships, we can support each other and help each other grow to be more like Christ but it won’t be easy. We might need to be courageous to inflict “wounds” on our friends in love to help them reflect Christ, and we also need to be ready to be on the receiving end of such wounds.

If God is laying something on your heart about friendship, whether it is to pray about a certain friend, or to serve them in some way, don’t let the opportunity pass you by. Love your friends online and offline as long as you have the blessing of journeying together.

About the writer:

Chantelle van den Heever always dreamt of becoming a writer and God granted her the journey that brought her to living out that dream through Jackal Media. She’s a copywriter, dog-mom and wife to a fellow servant of Christ. When she’s not writing she loves meeting with all God’s children through her travels.
She firmly believes in second-chances and that grace is sufficient for all the kinks in the road of life.