Real Relationships

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, August 16, 2019

Our circle of close friends is getting smaller. According to a 2017 survey by Charities Relate and Relationships Scotland, 13% of respondents did not have someone they were close with, up from 10% when the same question was asked in 2015. The survey found that increased dependence on social media, lack of work/life balance and the pressures of bringing up children could be affecting people’s friendships.

They also found that almost half (45 per cent) of adults felt lonely at least some of the time and almost a fifth (18 per cent) felt lonely often or all the time.

Sherry Turkle, a professor at M.I.T. and author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, has spent the last 20 years studying how our “plugged-in lives” have changed who we are. She claims that all our technological devices have produced a world in which we’re always communicating but we’re seldom having real conversations.

Consider the following quotes from Turkle:

  • We are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places …. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation. Connecting in sips doesn’t work as well when it comes to understanding and knowing one another.
  • We are increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship.

“The illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship.” Wow! That so clearly describes what is going on in culture today, and it is contrary to what the Creator calls us to, which is intimate fellowship.

Here’s what God’s wisdom is:

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

God reminds us that we need friends that are willing to wound us because they love us. They will speak the truth in love, and we will call them faithful to have done it.

But how many of us allow those kinds of relationships in our lives? Rather, we prefer the illusion of friends. We can block them if they offend us, and be mad at them if they block us for what we post. We can pick and choose friends who will satisfy some deep-seeded need for attention, approval, or acceptance. After all, friends are to be used for our gratification, right? Proverbs calls those kinds of friends, enemies.

Unfortunately, when the real storms of life begin appearing on the horizon and crash in on us with life-altering force, we have no one to talk to. To compensate we’ve created a system of professional help to get us through the same issues that God intended our friends to help with.

We need drastic and dramatic change. We need face-to-face time with friends, like Moses is described as having with God.

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Exodus 33:11

I’m not asking you to throw away Facebook or phones, but I am asking you to think about the quality of relationships you have. I know I need to. I’m going start fixing that. I’m going to intentionally choose to spend time regularly with a friend; side-by-side and face-to-face. We are going to sharpen each other. And I will turn my cell phone off. No Facebook updates. No Instagram or Twitter. No games. No email. Just intimate fellowship with a friend!

Try it for yourself.

Pastor John

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