Reclaiming True Friendship in the Facebook Age

by | Apr 11, 2012 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

Technology has connected us
superficially. But the Holy Spirit can knit us together supernaturally.

Two weeks ago I attended a men’s
retreat in Georgia with some of my closest friends. Chris, Eddie, Rick,
Michael, Ray, Robert, Medad, Quentin and James were in the audience with 120 other
guys. We spent 2 1/2 days together—worshipping, attending teaching
sessions, praying in small groups and eating our meals together. Nobody wanted
to go home. It felt like heaven because we enjoyed being together so much.

“In this sophisticated age of social networking, when
everyone is supposedly ‘connected,’ we are as self-absorbed and isolated as
ever. Digital technology has trivialized relationships to the point that we
‘friend’ or ‘unfriend’ a person with a click. You can have 5,000 ‘friends’ and
yet be the loneliest person in cyberspace.”

When it was time to leave I asked
all the guys to come near the stage. We linked arms and sang a simple chorus I
haven’t heard in years. You may remember the words:

Bind us
together, Lord, bind us together / With cords
that cannot be broken / Bind us
together, Lord, bind us together / Bind us
together with love / There is
only one God, there is only one King / There is
only one body, that is why we can sing …

That song was popular during a
simpler time, at the tail end of the Jesus movement in the 1970s when church
wasn’t as trendy and professional as it is today. Back then we didn’t have
savvy marketing strategies, media-enhanced sermons and hipster preachers. But
what we lacked in coolness we made up for with deep relationships.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think
we need a return to that simpler style. Not only is the world crying out for
genuine love, but Christians are too. In this sophisticated age of social
networking, when everyone is supposedly “connected,” we are as self-absorbed
and isolated as ever. Digital technology has trivialized relationships to the
point that we “friend” or “unfriend” a person with a click. You can have 5,000
“friends” and yet be the loneliest person in cyberspace.

I meet many believers, especially
men, who are starved for real relationships but find it too painful to make
them. This is partly because we tend to emphasize the importance of a vertical
relationship with God but spend very little time teaching people how to make
their faith horizontal. And in charismatic churches, we often are too busy
chasing an electrifying personal experience with God to place any value on
community.

Those of us who pride ourselves on
being experts on the Holy Spirit have neglected one of His most important
roles. He is not just the One who heals us, anoints us and empowers us to work
miracles. The Spirit is also the One who unites Christians with a holy bond and
draws us into close fellowship with each other. He forms us into a tightly knit
family.

The Greek word koinonia, translated “fellowship,” first appears in Acts 2:42,
immediately after the Holy Spirit’s outpouring on the first disciples. This is
because genuine fellowship—the knitting of our hearts to each other—is a
supernatural work of the Spirit, a manifestation of His power that is no less
important than dreams, visions, speaking in tongues or prophecy. (Koinonia is
also attributed to the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 13:14 and Philippians 2:1.)

Even a cursory reading of the New
Testament proves that koinonia, this
powerful bond of the Spirit, was what held the early church together and fueled
its growth. The first Christians had no marketing plans, no church growth
gurus, no Twitter or Facebook, no concert tours. But they had a gushing love
for each other, a holy affection that glued their hearts together to form a
cross-cultural, multi-racial family.

When the Holy Spirit came on the
early church, He changed everything about the way they related to each other.
“And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common …
and they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to
their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:44, 46b-47, NASB).

It is the Spirit who enables true
community. He gives us the grace to humble ourselves, take off our armor of
pride and open our hearts to each other. He enables us to forgive and mend our
rifts with each other. He connects us, and then nourishes every connection with
His love.

If you find it hard to make close
friends, or to enjoy a deep level of fellowship with other believers, then ask
the Holy Spirit to help you. He will heal the hurts of your past. He will free
you from the fear of betrayal and rejection. And He will connect you with real
friends. Just as He knit the hearts of David and Jonathan, and just as He knit
the heart of the apostle Paul to the saints in Ephesus, Thessalonica and
Philippi, He will give you close relationships. This is part of your
inheritance as a child of God.

I see a spiritual awakening on the
horizon, but it is not what many of us imagined. Yes there are miracles and clouds of glory awaiting. But what will stand out the
most—and make the biggest impression on unbelievers—is not our fiery sermons or
our charismatic power but our passionate love for each other.

J. LEE GRADY is
contributing editor of
Charisma. You
can follow him on Twitter at
leegrady. His most recent book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Is the False Prophet Alive and Well on Planet Earth?

Is the False Prophet Alive and Well on Planet Earth?

Note: As the World Economic Forum rolls out the "Great Reset’"—and a new poll shows 77% of the public is concerned "microchip implants will be used to usher in a never-before-seen level of totalitarian control"—an Israeli professor and New York Times bestselling...

Knowing the Character of God When It Matters Most

Knowing the Character of God When It Matters Most

If you have found yourself in the direct path of a searing fire in life, your bravest choice is to recognize who God is and then glorify Him as Lord. If you refuse to recognize the character and goodness of God when the temperature of life is uncomfortably high, you...

Don’t Make ‘Parties’ as an Excuse for Over-Indulging

Don’t Make ‘Parties’ as an Excuse for Over-Indulging

I love a party or any get together where there is food. How about you? However, it is a big excuse many use for not losing weight. I had this excuse. It went something like this, “I can’t lose weight because I want to eat at family gatherings, parties, church carry-in...

Relax and Let the Holy Spirit Work in You

Relax and Let the Holy Spirit Work in You

Here’s an honest confession: I struggle to rest in the Lord. Maybe I’m a bit compulsive, but I find it difficult to be still and know that God is working when I can’t see what He’s doing. When I need the Lord to do something in my life, I tend to “help Him” do it. But...

3 Qualities of Successful Kingdom Leaders

3 Qualities of Successful Kingdom Leaders

If you grew up in the 1990s, you knew Mike. Michael Jordan, that is. It was spectacular to watch him play basketball. He’d make “impossible” shots with only three seconds left on the clock and win the game, It happened … for years! What you might not know is that he...

RECENT ARTICLES

How to Operate in the Power Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told the apostles in Acts 1:8 (NLT), “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Jesus promises a gift that would give them comfort, power,...
Messianic Rabbi: Make the Choice to Be an Outsider

Messianic Rabbi: Make the Choice to Be an Outsider

One of the wonderful things about reading through the Bible is that the more you read it, the more things you find within its pages. No matter how many times you read a verse or a series of verses, because the Bible is a living document, there will always be more to...

Kingdom Economics: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Kingdom Economics: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress unanimously voted to pass a declaration of independence from Britain. Each signatory was facing death by hanging if the bold experiment failed. The Declaration of Independence declared that all men were created equal and that...

Consider This Unsung Hero of the Bible

Consider This Unsung Hero of the Bible

Sometimes, I think Martha in the Bible gets a bad rap! I am not saying that Jesus labeled Martha at all. Please hear me out. But I think we would be wise to avoid picking up and holding onto some of the dynamics in this potential sibling rivalry between Martha and...

Prophetic Word: We Are Entering the Books of Acts

Prophetic Word: We Are Entering the Books of Acts

On the morning of June 5, 2022, I was praying in preparation for the Arise Women’s Summit I was hosting near Knoxville, Tennessee, when the Lord took me into an encounter. I found myself in the library of heaven standing before a giant staircase made of extremely...

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

During the past two years, I believe the church at large has been in a season of returning to God. Repentance is crucial when it comes to revival. Scripture shows a clear pattern that repentance precedes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (see Joel 2:12-28 and Acts...

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

All of us at some point will hit a place of getting the wind knocked out of us. We all experience unexpected detours and times when there seems to be no way out. But there is One who lives in us, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us the strength to overcome obstacles....

Pin It on Pinterest