Real Friends on the Narrow Road

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I have 3,500 friends on Facebook, but to be honest, I’m not really “friends” with all of them—in the truest sense of the word. In fact, I’m not even friends with most of them. Many of them have come about as a direct result of my being an author and writer. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say that I’m famous, well-known, or even well-liked (but I sure hope I am); what I am saying is that in this day and age, in order to gain full access to someone’s online profile and page in order to learn more about them—at least on Facebook–you have to “friend” them. And that makes for somewhat of a deceptive understanding, and an extremely shallow “friendship” relationship.

My concern isn’t unique; in fact, there are a great many researchers who have, well, researched this very thing, and have all come to the same inevitable conclusion: Facebook “friends,” for the most part, are nothing like real friendships. Furthermore, they have all lamented the unsurprising fact that these types of “friendships,” if solely focused on, can end up cheapening, robbing, and ultimately damaging our real friendships.

Crucial Questions

Now before you stop reading, let me ask you one crucial question (okay, three):

  1. What kind of relationship do you have with Jesus? Is it one where you call yourself a Christian? Or one where you really are a Christian?
  2. Can a Facebook “friendship” with someone you’ve never actually met in person—not even once—be as strong, authentic and real as a relationship you’ve taken the time and trouble to form, nurture and maintain?
  3. Could you, in fact, at this very moment be fooled into thinking that you have an authentic relationship with Jesus and that you “know” him, when in actuality you really are only Facebook “friends”?

I know I made you squirm—and that was totally intended. In fact, given the present state of our culture and world, these are all questions we should be asking ourselves. Why? Simply because Jesus kind of made a big deal about this whole issue of not just us saying that we know Him, but knowing that we know Him and, more importantly, Jesus knowing us.

Jesus Isn’t P.C.! 

. . . God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12, NIV)

Jesus isn’t politically correct at all! I’m constantly amazed that when many people–even Christians–hear this verse, they get bothered, upset, offended . . . and some of them get really angry! When the Apostle John wrote this, his goal wasn’t to be mean, intolerant, or disrespectful. He was simply stating a reality of life. To make sure you don’t miss this profoundly important truth, here it is: If you have accepted Jesus’ offer to switch His life for yours, then you’ve got eternal life. If you haven’t done this, then all you have is eternal death.

It would be silly to get angry with somebody and call them intolerant and a bigot if you told them that if they tried to go scuba diving without a tank of air, they would die! If a doctor told you that if you don’t take a specific medicine for your illness, you would die, why would you get angry? The doc’s just stating a simple fact! But the same holds true for our relationship with Jesus. John, who knew Jesus personally, says it like this: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:4, NIV). John’s equation is: Jesus = life! Simple, right? Wrong!

Facebook—and any social media app, for that matter–has a tendency to fool us into thinking that we really know someone, when in actuality, we only know of them.

Once Saved, Always …

There are many people today who want to split hairs, make excuses, and ask all sorts of convoluted questions to try to complicate this issue, when it really is quite straightforward and simple. The question we all have to ask ourselves today–and hopefully ask others as well–is this: Do you have Jesus? How can you actually have somebody?

Okay, I’ll admit, it’s a difficult concept to explain; let me ask it another way: Does Jesus have you? You know what I mean, don’t you? This is the difference between knowing about Jesus and actually knowing Jesus. This is the difference between asking, “Would doing __________ be breaking any commandments or rules?” as opposed to asking, “Would doing ___________ pull me further from Jesus, or draw me closer to Him?” It’s the difference between a “How much can I get away with, and still slide into Heaven by the skin of my teeth?” attitude, versus an “I hate things that will hurt my relationship with Jesus, and I want to stay as far away from sin as I possibly can” attitude.

Many people see Jesus simply as a ticket to stay out of hell. Jesus has been jokingly called “The Ultimate Fire Insurance.” But Jesus tells us Himself that there will be others who think that they have Jesus, when in fact they don’t.

Now, be honest, how many times have you received a private message or post on your Facebook “wall” from someone who is listed as your “friend,” only to immediately think: I don’t know that person at all…who are they? Are they my “friend?” When did this happen? In the New Testament book of Matthew, Jesus tells a story about people who post on His “wall,” so to speak. Check out Jesus’ response:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23, NIV)

Don’t you find it interesting that Jesus clearly states that not only does He not know all the people who did good things in His name, but that He never knew them.

Self-Deceived “Saints”

So how do we keep ourselves from being members of this shocked group of folks who will receive the ultimate “unfriend” from Jesus, and be headed to an eternity without Him? How do we keep from fooling, not just others, but ourselves? Well, the answer lies in a deeper study of the same passage from which we got Jesus shocking statement:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:13-20, NIV)

Don’t miss it: Jesus is saying that not everybody who goes to church is a true Christian. In fact, there are many so-called Christians who do all kinds of wonderful things in the name of Jesus . . . and those things in themselves aren’t bad, but Jesus isn’t talking about doing things as the criteria for admittance into Heaven! He’s talking about choosing to have a real, vibrant, daily relationship with Him! Did you notice he talked about choosing the narrow and wide roads? He wasn’t talking about just non-Christians that choose the wide road. That verse was within the context of talking about Christians! He was saying that you can call yourself a Christian all day long, but walking the straight-and-narrow literally means that in order to get and stay on the path, you’ve got to let go of a lot of stuff!

Lastly, Jesus clearly states that if someone calls himself a Christian, a good way for you and I to know if they really are one is simply to pay attention to their life … not just what they do during church time? Anybody can be good and do good things during church time, or do good things in the name of the church or even in the name of Jesus. But a closer examination of their life will reveal what they’re really made of. What do they listen to, watch, and post? How do they talk? What kind of jokes do they tell? What do they laugh at? How do they spend their money and time? How do they treat their families and friends? What kind of employee are they? In Matthew 12:32-34, Jesus uses this same word-picture of tree and fruit while talking about the supposed spiritual leaders of His day and how they looked holy, but in actuality were hypocrites because the words they spoke revealed what was truly in their hearts.

Getting Real with God

So if you truly care about your relationship with Jesus, and don’t want to fool yourself into thinking you’ve got life when in actuality you don’t, here are three suggestions:

  1. Ask God to reveal the true intents of your heart. God says that our hearts are deceitful above all else. Ask God to wake you up. Pray the prayer that David prayed in Psalms 139:22-24, and then hold on. God will answer. When He brings things to your mind, confess, repent, and obey. Obedience to God paves the way for a growing intimacy with Him. Then pray what David prayed in Psalms 51:10, and God will keep do it.
  2. Ask others for their true and honest opinions of you. Tell them what you’re doing, and that you no longer want to live the life of being a Christian in name only. And when they tell you, listen and change. Don’t be stubborn or prideful or make excuses. Change! Where has doing things your own way gotten you? Proverbs 11:14 (NIV) states that “For lack of guidance a nation falls,
 but victory is won through many advisers.”
  3. Connect with others in a way that is consistent and authentic, and really talk about what’s happening in your life and with you spiritually. King Solomon wisely (pun totally intended) wrote:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV).

Cheesy, But True

Someone a long time ago said the same thing that John said about Jesus, but it was a little more profound. You’ve likely seen it on billboards, church signs, t-shirts and bumper stickers. The sage philosopher stated: “Know Jesus, know peace. No Jesus, no peace!” In the final analysis, you don’t just want to be Jesus’ Facebook “friend,” but his real one. You want to know that you know Jesus and more importantly, you want Him to know you.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you Omar, but the true about this topic is that those who pretend to be a friend in disguard know fully well that they were deceiving people for personal gain. Liking to know Christ in pretence, and internal life goes beyond lip service. Anyway God know His own.

    Furthermore, the book of Galatians 6:7 saying: “Do not be deceived , God is not mocked , for whatever a man sow, that he will also reap”. If anyone’s sow to the air he would likewise reap winds.
    The eternal life in Christ Jesus is far away for any pretender. My candid advise is that people should stop deceiving themselves they should rather turn up to Jesus the way, the truth and life (John 14:6), before is too late and be His friend genuinely. Thank you.
    Emmanuel O. Afolabi

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