I recently read an article about Facebook friends. A study found that one out of three people don’t even like their Facebook friends enough to spend time with them in person. They’re happy to look at pictures of them and know the gossip about them. But only about 10% of their Facebook friends would they actually get together with. This reminds us that we live in a society of many very shallow relationships.
“Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6, ESV)
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17, ESV)
Friendship is not glamorized in our society. Romantic relationships get most of the attention. The Lord of the Rings is an exception. This is a story about friends who stay together, even through very intense struggles. In the first part of the trilogy--The Fellowship of the Ring—Frodo is heading off on his journey and feeling like he is supposed to do this on his own.
Sam says to Frodo: “Begging your pardon, sir! But I mean no wrong to you, Mr. Frodo, nor to Mr. Gandalf for that matter. He has some sense, mind you; and when you said go alone, he said no! take someone as you can trust.”
“But it does not seem that I can trust anyone,” said Frodo.
Sam looked at him unhappily. “It all depends on what you want,” put in Merry. “You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin — to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours — closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face your trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo. Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the Ring. We are horribly afraid — but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.”
That’s the faithfulness of real friendship. Friends are there through thick and thin. And to experience that kind of friendship, you have to be more than a Facebook friend.