I can remember a number of years ago when somebody told me there was going to be an information superhighway and how revolutionary it was going to be. I thought to myself, That sounds like a crazy and unrealistic possibility. How wrong I was.
I admit that I am not technologically up to speed. I have, however, learned to use an iPad—barely. I can look at my calendar, and retrieve phone numbers and addresses from my list of contacts. Our grandchildren were surprised and some thought it was awesome when they got a text message from their Papaw’s cell phone. I think it put them in a brief moment of shock, but they were thrilled to respond.
Now we are actually following our family and some very close friends on Facebook. Betty is the one who utilizes it every day. Betty loves to follow our grandchildren. She checks daily for family-related pictures our children may post. We’re both thrilled to see the inspirational comments, including many Scripture passages that our family posts on their page. (Please caution all family members that they will likely receive requests from people they should not and must not accept.)
Time magazine named Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as its “Person of the Year” in 2010. The article about him is fascinating (Time, Dec. 15, 2010). It states that one out of every 12 people on the planet uses Facebook, with 700,000 new members joining each day. (We encourage you to connect with LIFE Today at www.facebook.com/lifetodaytv. I often post information and insights I hope you’ll find meaningful.) In seven years, Zuckerberg created a social network almost twice as large as the United States. Nearly half of all Americans are on Facebook—and even more significantly, 70% of all Facebook users live outside the United States. It’s a global phenomenon. Zuckerberg’s success is undeniable, and I have heard nothing concerning his faith or a relationship with God. As I do for all people who obviously are in a position of influence, I pray that some co-worker or employee will effectively share Christ with this gifted entrepreneur.
Now the important question: If Jesus was on Facebook, who would be on his friends list? Would you? We should all want to be! Because of his faith, Abraham was referred to as “a friend of God.” Jesus spoke very clearly concerning those He would call friends. When challenging His disciples to be fruitful by abiding in Him, keeping His commandments in order that His joy would be in them and the joy would be made full, He was very specific in the next verses:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:12-14)
Jesus then re-emphasized the importance of fruitfulness and then reemphasized the command to love one another. Two chapters later, He said “the world will know we are His disciples [friends] because we love one another.” After more than 50 years following Jesus, the most disregarded commandment I observe is the failure of Christians to love one another. Those who claim to be followers seem to consider this commandment to be of little or no importance when Christ indicated it is of utmost importance. More emphasis has been placed on growing bigger churches than growing bigger Christians who are truly friends of Jesus. The spirit of dissension, division and divorce prevails among most believers. The forces of hell do tremble at the thought of Christians becoming one with the Father and living in unity as a healthy family. Although firmness and tough love is often appropriate, words of correction and even rebukes must be shared in a redemptive spirit. Reproof must never be delivered in a harsh, judgmental spirit of accusation, even when we’re convinced someone is wrong. Christians who disagree often sound as if they are trying to destroy the other person. Friends of Jesus are controlled by the spirit of redemption. Please hear what I’m sharing as a call to total commitment. Jesus is looking for friends, and lonely, hurting people look longingly for them.
Does Jesus recognize you as a friend because of your diligent and continual desire to obey His commands and your obvious legitimate interest in the well-being of others? Do you consistently respond to needs as a Good Samaritan, the true example of a neighbor? Are you living fruitfully, abiding in His presence, filled with love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness and self-control, which is actually the supernatural control of our lives by the indwelling Holy Spirit?
Friends of Jesus must not be perceived only as some pious spiritual group of outwardly dedicated people who live in isolation or who have taken some well-meaning vow of poverty. Friends of Jesus must be seen actively involved in the world of business, education, entertainment, the arts, athletics and serving as white- and blue-collar workers while caring deeply about others. Friends of Jesus will be seen as students, homemakers and community workers who are totally committed followers—disciples of Jesus and not just part of some religious organization. They live with such abundance of life that they are content with or without the material things much of the world considers most important.
True friends of Jesus take His commands seriously. Among the last words to His followers came the charge, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons.” Don’t be unduly concerned about end times. “Just be witnesses for Me” at home and to the ends of the earth. He told them they were to make disciples of the nations. To all observers, Jesus revealed the Father’s true character through His life. He illustrated the Father’s love in the story of the prodigal son and the love of the Good Shepherd for one lost sheep, even when 99 were safe in the fold. He demonstrated how glorious the grace of God is when He first exposed the sinful life of the immoral woman at the well in Samaria and then shared with her the water of life. He inspired her to personally experience the transforming power of God. She then openly told the entire community, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did” [but He won’t tell you]. Love covers a multitude of sins and sinners.
It’s often been said “the fruit of a Christian is another Christian.” The fact is, the fruit of a Christian is a Christian life, and a Christian life produces eternal fruit. This includes new believers who have been drawn to the Christ exalted through the yielded lives of those who are truly friends of Jesus.