“It is not good that the man should be alone …” (Genesis 2:18).
COVID-19 has taken its toll on us. I probably didn’t need to tell you that. This pandemic has been so pernicious that it’s got introverts dreaming of taking the middle seat on a flight full of talk show hosts.
Here’s why I think the natives are restless: this just isn’t who we are! We’re people people at heart, and that goes for even the quieter types among us.
We were made for safety in numbers. Not safety in isolation. If you’ve ever gone camping in a place where bears roam the wild, you were probably warned not to wander off alone. For good reason, you needed a nature buddy. Similarly, God made us to look out for each other. Yes, we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper, like it or not. The Israelites had to become a community. The early followers of Jesus had to become a community. It’s just who we’re designed by our Creator to be.
We were made for sharing life together. The koinonia of the early Christians was much more than a Sunday gathering. It was spending time and breaking bread and praying for each other. They were devoted to each other, and they were devoted to the gospel, together. They were in it together. That shared identity, and the familial relationships that came with it, was worth living and dying for.
We were made for relational intimacy. In fact, we get sick without it. Johann Hari, in Chasing the Scream, observes: “Human beings have an innate need to bond and connect. When we are happy and healthy we will bond with the people around us. But when we can’t because we’re traumatized, isolated or beaten down by life, we will bond with something that gives us some sense of relief. It might be checking our smartphones constantly. It might be pornography. It might be gambling, etc. but we will bond with something … Addiction is just one symptom of the crisis of disconnection that’s happening all around us. We all feel it.”
We were made for humble interdependency. That’s part of our deep need for each other: it takes iron to sharpen iron. We are a living body, connected to our living Head, Christ. He is the source of our life, and that life is breathed into us in and through a spiritual community. It’s not that Christ can’t meet our needs when we’re alone, but it’s that Christ often chooses to meet our needs through other people.
Community is a glorious opportunity for you and for me, as Christ’s Church becomes our sacred tutor. In the sometimes painful stretching of each one of us, as we learn to embrace and serve each other, we experience our Lord’s grace in real life. And we grow into the life-giving and irreplaceable family we were always meant to be.
So here’s to you!