Now, that might not sound like a very nice thing to say. After all, didn't I just blog about loving unlovable people? Yes--I did. But loving people doesn't mean you have to be everybody's friend.
That may sound unkind, unchristian, and unpastoral to some people who might read these words. But the Bible says there's "a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing (Ecclesiastes 3:5 NIV)." So today, I unfriended someone. I decided it was time to break the embrace.
Not that it was much of an embrace, anyway. This person was a Facebook friend with whom I haven't had any real contact for years. At one time, they were part of my social circle, but they were the kind of person that you're friends with simply because you feel it's your "Christian duty." They need something, and it's in your power to give, so you give. You've had folks like that in your life too, I'm sure. This person was someone who I had frequent disagreements with, whose outlook is quite different from mine, and with whom friendship was more situational than soul-based. And today, that person ticked me off just a little too much. So I unfriended them.
No, I'm not going to go into the details. But I've been realizing lately that I don't need a thousand Facebook friends. When I was pastoring churches, I used to say yes to almost every friend request, because, "Hey, I don't even know them, but they live in the same community, and they might need a pastor!" The truth is, I lacked proper boundaries. Nothing in my job description said I needed to be everybody's friend. And now that I'm not in the pulpit any longer, I realize that not only is being everybody's friend NOT in MY job description--it's not ANYBODY'S "Christian duty." John 2:23-25 (NI|V) says:
Now while he \(Jesus) was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Jesus knew that not everybody was trustworthy, and that while some people were worthy to be part of his inner circle, he didn't need a thousand Facebook friends any more than I do. Facebook has only been available to the public since 2006--but long before "unfriending" became a word, God modeled setting proper relationship boundaries. When people refused to behave in friendly ways toward God and other people, God removed the blessing of divine presence and favor. Recently, I've been reading Boundaries: When to Say Yes and How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Cloud and Townsend. I've also been reading Kissing Fish: Christianity for People Who Don't Like Christianity by Wolsey. Both authors talk about God distancing divine presence and favor from people who act in unfriendly ways towards God and others. So I've taken God's cue and done the same thing with this person who crossed my boundaries.
Don't get me wrong--I'm not advocating disposing of sacred, special, dear, and important relationships like real friends and family. But if you're honest with yourself, you'll have to admit that there are some people in life that were never really friends anyway--folks who you're better off without. Today I created some breathing space in my life by being a bit more authentic in a really peripheral relationship. Maybe you need to decrease your Facebook friends list, too. Even if I'm the one you decide to drop, if your life has more breathing space, it's probably a good decision.