Barry Wallace (right) and me (left)
One of my favorite things about blogging is being able to "virtually" meet so many interesting and edifying people from all over the world. I've been blessed to interact with great theological minds and godly people I might never have met otherwise. Early in my blogging career (I'm not sure if that's the right word for it), I found Barry Wallace to be a wonderful friend and ally in the cause of sound doctrine and discipleship. I can still remember the day I stumbled onto his blog and found my heart resonating with his article, "A Bad Heart." Since then, I have come to rely on Barry's mature advice and counsel, as well as his gracious words of encouragement.
During my recent vacation in Missouri, I had the opportunity to meet up with Barry in "real life." I happened to be driving right through his town, so we decided to bring our families along and have lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. I was thrilled to enjoy a few hours of fellowship with this man whose thoughtful writings I have long appreciated. Barry and his family were delightful, and he wasn't even fazed by my children sticking balloons on top of his head while we talked. That was true meekness, I think!
Sometimes people downplay online relationships as if they were not in any way impactful or genuine. As if they were somehow "unreal." While I understand and agree with the primacy of cultivating actual face-to-face relationships with the people around us, I believe some of the criticism of online friendships is overstated. Consider how many of the apostle Paul's relationships were developed over long distances and through letters, and how "real" and "genuine" he took those relationships to be.
Colossians 2:1 "For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face . . ."
I'd like to follow that up with another question: is your relationship with the Lord "long distance" or "face-to-face"? Now you can see the false dichotomy in those categories, can't you? For Christians, real connections can be made with folks we never meet because the same Spirit lives in us. We love and serve the same Savior, and we are mystically united in Him whether we ever make spatial contact in this life.
Have you ever met a Christian brother or sister with whom you had formed an online friendship? Leave a comment and tell us about it.