These days, isn’t it so easy to make friends? All you have to do is click “confirm” or “add,” and you’re done! You now have another friend. Long gone are those awkward “getting to know you” conversations. All you have to do is scroll through their feed, like their photos, post a couple comments, and in no time, you’ll be getting hundreds of friends saying “happy birthday” to you annually.
As blatantly sarcastic as I’m being, if you were to be brutally honest with yourself, I’m sure there’s been a moment when you’ve called a Facebook friend an actual friend when you’ve never actually seen them face to face. Or you at least know someone who has done this.
If you were to be brutally honest with yourself, I’m sure there’s been a moment when you’ve called a Facebook friend an actual friend when you’ve never actually seen them face to face.
Is this what friendship has come to?
As men, why does it seem so hard to make genuine friends? And keep them?
I know we often use busyness as an excuse for not making or cultivating friendships—I’ll be the first one to admit to that—but have you ever considered the consequences of delaying the formation of genuine friendships?
To answer that question, let’s take a look at James 5:13-14. While this passage is often quoted when someone is sick and is needing the healing touch of Jesus, I also believe it has a deep measure of insight into the topic at hand.
Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:13-14 CSB).
What do you think James is getting at when he’s asking, “Is anyone among you…?” Do you think he’s just asking whether or not you are aware of what’s going on around you? Whether you are connected enough to others to know and notice if anyone among you is suffering?
While I recognize that there are some people—like my wife Christina—who can intuitively sense and feel the emotions of others, I’ve lived long enough to know that this doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I actually need to know that something is going on in someone’s life to be able to do something for them and be a friend to them.
I actually need to know that something is going on in someone’s life to be able to do something for them and be a friend to them.
To know this requires several things: It requires me to lift my head up, get out of my own little world, and take my headphones off. It requires me to begin eating with others, asking questions and listening—both to them and to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to know what to say and what not to say. It requires me to go earlier and stick around longer so that I can have conversations with others beyond whatever meeting I’ve come to. It requires me to budget a little bit more for eating out so that I can go out to lunch with others after church or go out to coffee with my neighbors and coworkers. It requires the use of a slow cooker when I have others over so that I can have more time to listen, talk, and engage with others when they come over. And it also requires me being okay with my home—and not obsessing over how it looks, what type of floor I have, or even how clean it is.
In other words, to know whether something is going on in someone else’s life, I need to first be present and be a friend—something that just doesn’t happen overnight.
So let me ask you a few questions: Is anyone among you suffering? Instead of just telling them to go and pray, what if you were to go and pray with them? Is anyone among you cheerful? Instead of just being happy for them, what would happen if you celebrated with them? And is anyone among you sick? I recognize that things are a bit weird right now with COVID, but what would happen if you were to drop off a meal for them? Visit with them over FaceTime or Zoom? And also, help mobilize the elders of your church and prayer team to pray for them?
In today’s world, where it’s so easy to “use” people and treat them as a means to an end, let’s resolve to be the kind of men who can easily answer the question, “Is anyone among you…?”