By Pastor Ron Aulbach,
BridgeWay Community Church
I recently read an article by MIT professor Sherry Turkle who tells the story of a conversation she had with a young teenage girl. At only 16 years old, this girl had already experienced so much rejection and disappointment that she announced she was giving up on people. She was done with the human race. Instead, she dreamed of a computer companion that would be more understanding and compassionate. She had standards and wanted a more sophisticated option than Siri. This girl was absolutely convinced that someday scientists would be able to deliver. I guess time will tell, but the larger question is one that most people struggle with: Do I have a someone that cares about me? While a computer can’t break your heart, it can’t really care for your heart either. Turkle writes, “These robots can perform empathy in a conversation about your friend, your mother, your child, or your lover, but they have no experience of any of these relationships. Machines have not known the arc of a human life. They feel nothing of the human loss or love we describe to them.”
We need people, real people, that do more than check the box as an acquaintance. While the summer months provide a great season of activity, travel and warmer weather they often leave people feeling alone and disconnected. As the colors change and school activities push into high gear, it warrants taking inventory of who you can rely on. A real friend. A lot of people come to church looking for God but end up finding a group of people that help them discover and grow into all that God wants for them. That group allows for deep friendships knit together not just by affinity for a favorite sports team or hobby, but a divine love that covers and carries the burdens of life. One of the primary tasks of the church is to create an environment where one finds friends and learns how to be one.
Jesus is not only a friend of sinners, but a friend. When Jesus began his ministry, he started by picking his friends. Simon and Andrew, then James and John. Philip told Nathaniel and the movement spread. See, when a person finds life, it compels them to share that life with others! So, have you found your people? Take a risk and reach out to those around you this Fall, “a sweet friendship refreshes the soul” (Proverbs 27:9).