During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner had been strengthening his own position in the house of Saul. Now Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. And Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, “Why did you sleep with my father’s concubine?”
Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth said. So he answered, “Am I a dog’s head — on Judah’s side? This very day I am loyal to the house of your father Saul and to his family and friends. I haven’t handed you over to David. Yet now you accuse me of an offense involving this woman! May God deal with Abner, be it ever so severely, if I do not do for David what the Lord promised him on oath and transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and establish David’s throne over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba.” Ish-Bosheth did not dare to say another word to Abner, because he was afraid of him.
Then Abner sent messengers on his behalf to say to David, “Whose land is it? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you bring all Israel over to you.”
- 2 Samuel 3:6-12
“…I cannot quite understand why a man should wish to know more people than he can make real friends of.”
- C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy
I think the C. S. Lewis quote could easily be misinterpreted. C. S. Lewis is not saying that we should limit our friends, but if we truly know someone, we should BE a friend to them. And we should only count someone as a true friend if we truly know them.
The Scripture shows how being a friend is important. Abner, leader of Saul’s Army, is accused of something that the Bible never confirms whether he actually did or did not do, but Abner protests that he was innocent. And then Abner proclaims that he is switching sides and joining David’s camp.
Friends stick together through thick and thin, but there are some lines that you do not cross. Crossing those lines is not being a friend. That does not mean that a friend should not tell another friend when they are wrong. In fact, that may be the ultimate test of their friendship.
But that is the point, what Lewis was saying, to be a friend, you must really know the person. You do not know the person if you only see what they want you to see on social media. You do not know them if you have casual contact at school or work or even church. If you do not know the person, you are not really friends with them.
And strangely, I feel more connected to many of the bloggers that I follow than I do my church friends. Why? I confide in them what is on my heart and they respond in kind. Sometimes they disagree. Many times, they agree. And when they post something, I do the same for them. With sharing from the bottom of your heart, you get to know one another.
At church, you are too worried about the gossips and the hidden agendas. It is hard knowing who you can trust. Thus, you say little except in a trusted small group, and maybe not everything then. As that type of Sunday school teacher, my wife often tells me on the way home that I shared too much, but I got people talking a sharing how they interpreted that verse or chapter in the Bible.
It is sad that so many young people these days measure their self-worth on how many friends or followers they have on social media. Then once you have a few hundred or a few thousand, you measure your self-worth on how many likes you get on posts or tweets or whatevers.
I will admit that I keep a spreadsheet on my posts. This post will be the 1800th entry, but a few entries in the spreadsheet are pages, 1800 posts by mid-week. I am approaching 800 followers, but as my friend, Julie at Cookie Crumbs to Live By, has said in comments to me, having that many followers means little when you get less than a tenth of those followers reading your post every day. She did not say those words exactly, but I took it as something along those lines. Many days I get 2-3 percent who drop by. And to be honest, I only visit maybe 20% of those that I follow. I appreciate every follower, but some of you have passed to the Lord and WordPress is keeping you active. Others have moved on and may or may not come back for a visit. That is okay too, just like life.
And as for “likes”, I get enough. Anyone would want more, but sometimes I write things that could upset folks, make them question themselves. I would love a comment, and I have gotten a few, that said that they had never thought of what I had written about, and they needed to do some serious self-examination. Hallelujah! If that brings someone closer to God, I can give up a ton of “likes” because what I wrote caused them to self-examine rather than self-confirm. And if all you ever want is to be more like Jesus, self-confirmation is okay, but do you need it when you have a bucket load of Jesus already?
But as for social media, there is more and more evidence that social media divides us rather than bringing us together. Think about it. When your self-worth is based on thousands of people liking you when they do not know you, you will crave more and more of that non-attention, and you will drift further away from that true friend down the street that you used to rely upon. Where will that true friend be when you need a true friend in the future?
I wrote recently about a man named Fred who would drop anything if I needed help. That is a true friend. And as a true friend, I limited those times where I called for help, and I negotiated a time that was good for both of us. And I am still, a year after his death, doing what I can to pay him back for his kindness.
And there is another thing about social media friends. They tend to be people that agree with your point of view. Some of this is social media software manipulation to make you and your friends think you have the only viewpoint that matters. That divides us even more.
I have friends on social media that are high school classmates, and some of them have opposite views to mine. Sometimes I just scroll down and avoid the conflict. Other times, I try to understand how they could have the view that they have. After all, I grew up with them.
I have other friends on social media who are family. I guess I am stuck with them. I have written enough for people to know me as conservative, but I have relatives that are so far to the right that I look like a Communist. And I have a few that are to the left also – way, way, way, and out of here left (old sports commentary about baseballs going over the fence for a home run, nothing more). Family is in a different classification than friends. They are family. You love them, even when you cannot stand to be around them.
And as for the work people and church people who are also social media friends, I must ask if I really know them that well. Some of my best friends at church are not on social media. And the same goes for some of my old work friends.
Although I would sure love for you who are reading this to read a few more posts that I have written, let us all step away from the keyboard long enough to call someone that we really know. Just before writing this paragraph, I called my sister. She is fine and her daughter has still not gotten word whether she passed the bar exam. So, more prayers are needed.
And we must all realize that Jesus is the best friend that we will ever have, and we don’t even need an internet connection to talk to Him.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.