I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

[John 15:15]

What is a friend?

When asked the question, the philosopher Aristotle replied, ”A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

Webster’s dictionary defines it as: One who entertains for another such sentiments of esteem, respect, and affection that he seeks his society and welfare; a well-wisher; an intimate associate; sometimes, an attendant.

Time spent with friends is time well spent.

Time spent with friends is time well spent.

Lately I’ve become fascinated by the word “friend.”

What prompted my query was the recent upsurge in the number of friend requests I’ve received recently on Facebook. You know, those who may have seen your name on a conversation thread and decided to “friend” you. Yes, friend has now become a verb.

My friends list now numbers nearly a thousand. What is astonishing is that I recognize less than a third of those names, if that many.

When I was first elected bishop, I was bombarded by friend requests. It is, after all, human nature to curry favor. We love rubbing elbows with those whom we perceive as important or powerful. News flash: you’re rubbing the wrong elbow here.

Facebook Friend RequestThings slowed down somewhat in the ensuing months, but of late, the daily invites to become friends with people I hardly know have resumed. I do check their profile before responding, just to make sure they’re not some hacker looking to gain access to my fortune (good luck with that one!), or some pervert with a forty-year-old photo looking to put me in some sort of compromising situation. One can never be too careful.

The increase in friendships means that before I post, I now have to judiciously measure my words and weigh my thoughts – the exact opposite of what one is supposed to do with those one calls friends.

Several people I know have tried to solve their dilemma by creating multiple Facebook accounts; one for personal posts and another for church-related items. I have a hard enough time checking my five or six email addresses. I don’t need one more thing to attend to.

But I’ve made another discovery. Facebook has privacy settings. That means that if you want everyone to know what you’re posting, you simply make it public. That way the world will witness what you want to share. Those things I only want my friends to know should have a limited readership. But I don’t have that sort of intimate relationship with every one of my one thousand friends.

So, thanks to my most recent realization, I’m now in the process of developing a customized list of only those with whom I want to share my most closely guarded feelings. How will you know whether you’re on that list? Well, if you don’t hear from me…guess what?


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