by Tad Lindley
Only on account of writing about Facebook did I look up how many friends I have (1,811), because I don’t monitor the whole thing too hard. My wife manages my Facebook account for me and lets me know what I need to know and what I might be interested in. I’ve never unfriended someone that I know on Facebook. It seems too brutal to do that. I did set one guy to where his stuff doesn’t show up in my feed, because my wife showed it to me and some of it was downright unbiblical. (Actually, it was too biblical, it was straight out Romans 1.)
The threat of being unfriended
I have enough exposure to the Facebook world to know that it gets cutthroat out there. I’ve seen the posts like, “If you don’t like my post about my new relationship I’ll unfriend you!” Maybe you’ve heard ladies talk aloud like they were school girls, “I didn’t like the way Genie looked at me at the store yesterday, so I unfriended her on Facebook!” And they all laugh at poor Genie. I guess if you get unfriended you are being shamed in some way.
If you unfriended me
You might even be reading this and at one time I was your Facebook friend, but somewhere I did you wrong. Maybe you started a page and invited me to like it, but my wife didn’t like it when she was checking my Facebook. Or I didn’t write on your wall when it was your birthday. Or maybe you read my newspaper column and got mad at me and decided to teach me a lesson by unfriending me. Perhaps you even gleefully laughed yourself to sleep, thinking, “Brother Lindley is an emotional wreck now that I have unfriended him. It’s unlikely that he’ll ever bounce back from my rejection!” It’s even possible that there are a bunch of people that have unfriended me like that, but how would I know?
Letting you down as easy as I can
If you unfriended me, I didn’t notice. You see, I never keep track of how many friends I have except for this evening when I looked for the sake of this article. Unless you literally called my house and said, “Brother Lindley, I got so mad about what you wrote about forgiveness the other week, that I am calling to notify you that I am unfriending you on Facebook!”, I will probably never notice.
Friended by Jesus
Although God does not have Facebook, he gave us some very specific instruction for becoming his friend. You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. (John 15:14) Here is an undeniable example from scripture that Jesus friends people: And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (James 2:23)
Friends to the end
When we have Jesus as a friend, we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Jesus will never unfriend you. It’s hard to believe, but I have scripture to back this up. I previously wrote that I do not unfriend people I know, but if a “friend” started stalking me or trying to hurt me or my family, I would unfriend them. Not Jesus, he is a friend to the end.
Case in point: Judas
The night before Jesus was crucified he was having dinner with 12 of his closest friends. While they were at supper, he told them, “Boys, one of you that is here eating is going to betray me.” They all began to wonder which one it was (Matthew 26:20-25). You see, Judas had already taken 30 pieces of silver from the high priests in order to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16). Jesus knew all of this, but he still did not unfriend Judas!
Later that evening, Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. Judas knew that he would be there, and so he led the priests and the Roman soldiers there so that they might arrest Jesus. While He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.”
Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.
And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. (Matthew 26:47-50) Even as the troopers were putting the handcuffs on him, Jesus was still calling Judas “friend”!
Friend to the bitter end
You ask, “But isn’t Judas in hell, and won’t he burn forever in the lake of fire at the judgment?” That certainly seems to be the case, but it was not Jesus that unfriended Judas, it was Judas that unfriended Jesus. The sad facts are laid out for us in Matthew 27:3-5. Judas terminated his friendship with Jesus at the end of a rope. With his suicide he unfriended the Lord. God is so good, that the last time he ever spoke to Judas he called him, “Friend.” Judas did not have to die lost. In spite of his horrible failure, he could have repented and been saved and been Jesus’s friend to the bitter end. The choice was his, and he chose the bitter end not the better end.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the Bethel United Pentecostal Church.