It hit me like a ton of bricks. Someone had unfriended me on Facebook. My thoughts were fixated on understanding why they had deleted me. Was there something about the posts I shared that led them to remove me as a friend? Or maybe I was either too swift or slow in liking their posts for them to keep me as a friend?
That’s when I realized: this person I considered a Facebook friend was only that—someone I had connected with on social media. They were more of an acquaintance than an actual friend.
This realization moved me from confusion to conviction over wrongly defining what it means to be a friend. In that moment, the Lord reminded me that friendships function best when people are committed to investing in each other rather than impressing each other.Friendships function best when people are committed to investing in each other rather than impressing each other. Click To Tweet
Social Media Lens
Remembering this function of friendship helped me to look at my relationships with a new lens. I began to see I wasn’t the only one viewing friendship merely as an opportunity to impress people rather than an opportunity to make and foster real connections with others.
As I surveyed social media, I noticed many people’s Facebook statuses highlighted themselves. Whether sharing about their good deed as a “humble brag” or looking for sympathy when things didn’t quite go their way, their focus was largely on self. On Instagram, photos are rarely posted without some type of filter being used to “improve” the image, giving the appearance that someone’s life is better than it truly is.
To be sure, the internet and social media are not the ultimate culprit of this problem, but they have provided the means of altering our view. The way we use social media produces a consumer mindset. We look to see how many “friends” we can add to our list on Facebook and how many followers we can receive on Instagram. We have learned to focus on how to collect friends but have failed to learn how to be a friend.
Filters In Real Life
Unfortunately, we don’t just apply these “filters” to our social media lives anymore but our real lives too. Conversations quickly turn into monologues highlighting ourselves. When a friend opens up about a struggle they’re having, it is tempting to turn the discussion about something we have experienced or know about, all while being careful not to mention too much so our friend will not think less of us.
The problem with this type of “friendship” is that it is not biblical.
This type of “friendship” carefully filters what we share with others so people will be impressed by us, whereas a biblical friendship calls for us to invest in one another—which requires we share both the good and the bad.Biblical friendship calls for us to invest in one another—which requires we share both the good and the bad. Click To Tweet
We look at the picture of friendship through a blurred lens. What we need is to look at friendship through a biblical lens.
The Biblical Lens of Friendship
There may be no better book of the Bible for gaining this perspective than the book of Proverbs. In it, we see friendship not marked with filters but faithfulness. Filters hide struggles and only expose strengths. Faithfulness highlights commitment and care.
Proverbs 18:24 reminds us that true friendship is more about the commitment of care than the number of companions, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Likewise, Proverbs 17:17 kills the consumer mindset as the biblical friend chooses to love another in the midst of struggles, “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”
Still, one of the biggest issues in viewing friendship through a biblical lens is how we are to face one another’s sin. A friendship focused on impressing each other conceals sin. A friendship committed to investing in each other confesses sin and confronts sin with gentleness and truth. Proverbs 27:5–6 makes this point when it says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
When we learn to invest in friendships like this, we will witness that confessing and confronting each other on sin does not silence friendship but sharpens it (Proverbs 27:17). This is all because biblical friendship is not about impressing others. Biblical friendship is about investing in others.
Friendship viewed through the biblical lens of faithful investment and built on committed sacrifice and confession of sin is one that will stand and last.Friendship viewed through the biblical lens of faithful investment and built on committed sacrifice and confession of sin is one that will stand and last. Click To Tweet
The reason such a friendship is possible is because of the One who has paid the ultimate sacrifice in dying for the forgiveness of sin for us (John 15:12-15). Because of Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate Friend, we can learn to be friends who sacrifice for the good of another and confess our sins to one another.
The friend that follows His example has a friendship that functions with the right focus of lens.