In Japan, they have an organization which has become very successful. It is a company through which one can hire a “friend.” The number of Rent-a-Friend agencies in Japan has doubled to about 10 in the past eight years. It seems the lonely are willing to pay money to spend time with others.

They’re glad to be in the company of another person – even if it is a random “actor” – for a few hours.

Although it’s difficult to measure the exact extent of the problem, loneliness seems to be on the increase. “Young people today are immersed in a world where they can live entirely separated from others,” says psychiatrist Rika Kamaya – who traces the root of the problem to the development of smart phones, social media and gaming consoles – which breed isolation. This phenomenon is set to increase. “It’s happening right before our eyes,” says Kamaya.

There is also a degree of acceptance and security in the anonymity that cyber-space affords, especially among the socially awkward or physically unattractive. Some say that they feel “lonely, even in the middle of a crowd,” and “consider establishing a real relationship with another person as an effort.”

“I don't go out of my way to make friends,” one person says. “It just leads to disappointment.”

Some of the lonely are seeking out the services of Rent-a-Friend agencies. For a few precious moments, they can chat and get worries off their chest, go shopping, or watch a movie with a real person who appears to care for them.

Single mothers can rent a husband to help their children with homework or solve minor problems with neighbors. It’s also possible to rent a mother or father in which to confide when in need of advice or facing difficulties. *

The Bible speaks of the value of friendship: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV).

“…But there IS a Friend Who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

The Greatest Friend that one can have – and that all desperately need – is Jesus Christ.

Our sin creates the greatest loneliness: separation from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and a “dead end” (Romans 6:23). Jesus is the only Friend that can save us.

God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that we can be reconciled to Him, become a part of His family, and live eternally with Him (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:19; Romans 6:23). And Jesus willingly “laid down His life for His friends” (John 15:13).

God will save those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to “walk in the light” of His Word (1 John 1:7).

You can HAVE-A-FRIEND in Jesus.

Won’t YOU accept His offer of a redeeming and abiding friendship by trusting and obeying Him?

David A. Sargent

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