Do You Have Friends or Acquaintances?
Strive to Build Meaningful Connections with Those Around You
We know many more people on a casual level then we do in a deeper, more meaningful way. We can distinguish between them as acquaintances versus friends. Think of concentric circles, with yourself in the center. The innermost circle contains your friends, and the next circle out holds all your acquaintances.
We should seek to move people from the status of acquaintance to the position of friend. Here are some areas to consider.
Friends or Acquaintances on Social Media?
Depending on the platform, social media has various designations for those we associate with. This includes friends, followers, and connections. The label of friends, however, is a misnomer. At best our social media associations overflow with acquaintances, but many don’t even rise to that level.
We would be in error to look at our social media numbers and assume these people are all our friends. They are not. At best, only a handful qualify for the status of friendship. This is not to say that true friendship can’t occur online, but it’s rare and fleeting.
Friends or Acquaintances at Work?
Whether we labor with others or function remotely from home, we form connections with those we work with. Some of these relationships rise to the level of friendship, or so it seems. But the true test of these associations occurs when one person changes jobs. Those connections that prevail apart from work are true friendships.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t have friends at work. It just means that those friendships are situational, and once the situation changes usually the bond does too.
Friends or Acquaintances in Our Community?
How many people do you know who live around you? Our neighbors should, at the very least, be acquaintances. Turning these acquaintances into friendships is a wise pursuit. We need friends within our community.
Friends or Acquaintances at Church?
For those who regularly attend church services, or are involved in their programs, this is an ideal place to connect with people, especially those with like-minded spiritual perspectives. Yet too often our interactions don’t rise above the acquaintance level to become friends. And I’ve talked with many people who have never even formed acquaintances at church. This may be on them, or it may be the church’s culture. Either way it’s not good.
Friends or Acquaintances in Our Family?
A final consideration is our own family. Do our familial relationships qualify as friends or acquaintances? The relatives we only see at rare family gatherings qualify as acquaintances. Yet as we invest in our family, we can turn our biological bonds into meaningful friendships.
What Does the Bible Say?
As you might expect, the word acquaintances doesn’t receive much coverage in Scripture. Only once does it occur, and this comes from Job when he laments that “He has alienated my family from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me” (Job 19:13, NIV).
The word friend occurs much more often, hundreds of times. Here are some key verses about friendship:
- We prove we are Jesus’s friends when we do what he says (John 15:14-15).
- Don’t make friendship with the world (James 4:4).
- We should choose our friends with care (Proverbs 12:26 and Proverbs 22:24).
- A friend can help us when we fall (Ecclesiastes 4:10).
- A friend is better than a brother (Proverbs 17:17 and Proverbs 18:24)
- It’s important to have friends (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
- The greatest display of love is to die for our friends (John 15:13)
Many people mistake acquaintances for friends, but we should distinguish between the two. Though connection begins at the level of acquaintance, true community arises among friends. We should strive to move acquaintances into the level of friendships. And we should choose our closest friends with care, keeping in mind these key verses in the Bible about friendships.
May our friendships be deep and meaningful, with Jesus in the center.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.