We live in an age where people are desperately looking for connection with each other. Texting, tweeting, instant messaging, Facebook posting, Tiktoking and so much more. The problem is, virtual communication is a pale shadow of real in person communication. You are more easily fooled or foiled or scammed in the virtual world. Consider for a minute some of the dating apps, where people put out their best features and pictures, if they are honest, or make up a resume if they aren’t. Frankly, it’s very hit or miss to try and build relationships that way. You need to have an actual flesh and blood encounter with someone to build real lasting friendships. Pictured above is myself and Jeff James, aka the Tune Dude, aka a good Christian friend that I’ve gone to dozens of concerts with over the last three decades. We love music, and we love the Lord, and we are good friends, not to mention also Christian brothers. Friendship needs to be built on things that you are both really passionate about whether it’s your faith, or your passion for music or great art, etc.
Since I am a B.C. person by which I mean I spent a great deal of my life before computer, and even more before cellphones became computers, over the years I’ve had and continue to have lifetime friendships with persons I was roommates with at UNC—- Rick Sanders, Bill Brafford, Scott Sunquist, or some of the earliest John Wesley Fellows who used to meet every year at Christmas, Warren Smith, Richard Hays, or friends I made through being part of the guild of publishing, teaching, preaching scholars— Richard Bauckham, Tom Wright, Scot McKnight, Todd Still, Carey Newman and over the years various of my colleagues at Ashland, Asbury, Vanderbilt—- Bill Myers, Bill Arnold, Ruthanne Reese, A-J. Levine and so many more I could name. I love all these people, and am thankful for their friendship over many years. We break bread together, and you can’t do that online, we hug each other, and you can’t do that online, we go to concerts together, we hold hands and pray for each other in sickness and in health. As the Bard once out it— “I have a brace of kinsmen’ and we aren’t even blood relatives.
I have been reading lately a very interesting bio on Bono, of U2 fame. A genuine Christian person of a unique sort, and he says this about friendship—- “Great friendships can survive most of the crap thrown at them. They thrive on the manure of shared disappointment and drama. It’s hard to imagine a force as great as romantic love, but friendship comes close. Someone once argued that ‘friendship is higher than love’ and I understood what they meant. It may not be as melodramatic or grandiose or passionate as love, but friendship is often deeper and wider. Great friendships explain why we hold on to this life so tightly because it disappears so quickly….I was aware of the wider web of deep friendships we had both ([i.e. Bono and his wife Ali] grown up in, this sacrament of friendship from the band to the community around us.. Relationships we had chosen, not ones chosen for us by blood. Pandemics aside, I still embrace people when I meet them, which goes all the way back to the days of Shalom [the church he attended in Dublin] when that’s how we would say hello. I don’t know that I’ve ever shaken somebody’s hand without having to think about it. My instinct to hail a friend is to hold them.” (Surrender, p. 380). And what a good instinct that is. You can’t do that through the phone, or computer. Real friendship, under any normal circumstances, requires real contact.
Now, as some of my good friends have passed away, or near the end, I am eternally grateful for all my friends.
How about you?