Summary: Facebook friends really aren’t friends, they’re casual acquaintances on the internet. But real friendship is a powerful thing that Jesus not only gave us, but taught us to use for His kingdom. What does Friendship mean to Jesus and to us?

OPEN: I read about a woman who telephoned a friend and asked how she was feeling,

"Terrible," came the reply over the wire, "my head’s splitting and my back and legs are killing me. The house is a mess, and the kids are simply driving me crazy."

Very sympathetically the caller said, "Listen, go and lie down, I’ll come over right away and cook lunch for you, clean up the house, and take care of the children while you get some rest. By the way, how is your husband Sam?"

"Sam?" the complaining housewife grasped. "My husband’s name isn’t Sam."

"Oh dear," exclaimed the first woman, "I must have dialed the wrong number."

There was a long pause. "Does that mean you’re not coming over?"

That housewife had hoped she’d found a friend.

Someone who would be there in her need.

Friendship is a powerful thing.

Growing up, I remember how important it was for me to have “friends”. I didn’t have many friends, but the ones I had I cherished deeply.

According to one study I read recently:

People 25 or younger listed friends as their most critical social network; church ranked 5th. By contrast, adults over 25 ranked church as their key social group, followed by their work relationships.

Friendship is a powerful thing.

And the Bible agrees:

· “A friend loves at all times...” Proverbs 17:17

· “… There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

· “Wounds from a friend can be trusted...” Proverbs 27:6

· “Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father...” Proverbs 27:10

Friendship is powerful thing.

That’s why it is no surprise that one of the most popular features on Facebook is “friendship”

Just for the sake of those - who don’t what Facebook is - it’s THE most popular social get together place on the internet. There are 400 million users (if they had their own country it would the 3rd largest nation in world).

Facebook is a place where people can share their lives.

They can talk with others, post pictures and articles they’d like people to see…

And most of this sharing is done between “friends”

Friends (on Facebook) are people you’ve given the privilege of being able to visit your Facebook page. To “see” your pictures. And to share your thoughts.

If I write something on MY Facebook page… my friends will be read it on THEIRS.

If you’re not my friend (on Facebook) you might not be able to share in those things.

So when someone invites you to be their “friend” on Facebook, they are inviting you to share in their life on the internet. That makes “friendship” on the this site something of an honor.

The average Facebook user has about 150 friends. But there are many on the internet that can have hundreds – even 1000s – of friends. Some have as many as 30,000 friends who get access to their page.

Now I’ve got about 350 “friends” on Facebook.

But there is an odd thing about THESE friends.

They’re not all what I’d call “friends”.

Many of these are people I respect, people I like or would like to get to know. Or they are people who like what I’ve said… or what I’ve stood for. But very few of them are what I’d call friends.

ILLUSTRATION: (We showed a cartoon of a man standing at his open front door. Outside his house were obviously a large number of people waiting in line. The caption read “Hi. We’re you friends on Facebook, and we thought we might pop in for a drink”)

That’s never going to happen.

I’m never going to see all those Facebook friends I have “in person”. Ever.

If I were sick and in the hospital… they wouldn’t come visit me.

If I needed some money to help pay a bill… they wouldn’t be there for me.

If I was stranded on a highway at night… they wouldn’t come and get me.

Like that lady in our opening illustration - THEY’RE NOT COMING OVER!

They don’t really know me.

They don’t know the details of my life.

They don’t know what I struggle with.

They might not even LIKE me.

On Facebook… they’re my friends.

(PAUSE) But, for the most part, they’re just passing acquaintances. Most of them are very nice people, but they’re not REALLY my friends.

And, that’s what happens in real life too.

Sometimes even the people we call our friends – aren’t really our friends.

They’re not there when we need them.

They disappoint us or forget us, or ignore us.

Jesus tells the story of the youngest son of wealthy man.

The boy didn’t want to wait til his father died to get his inheritance, so he bugged him to his father finally gave it to him… then he went to a far away city and lived it up. He had parties, he had friends – at least until the money ran out… then his “friends” ran out and didn’t come back.

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William Austin

commented on Jun 28, 2012

This message has relevance in today?s situations. With the political and social divides that seem to be getting wider; there is a great need to focus on what friends are like. We need to learn how to be friends. This is a great message today.

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