We weren’t made to live alone. In Genesis 2, we see the very first time God says something is “not good.” For all of the creation story we see a common refrain from God of calling his creation good. He makes the Earth, the stars, the land, the sea, animals, plants, and men, then he calls all of them good. And in total, at the end of Chapter 1, he calls the totality of everything “very good.”
But God built a deficit into humans. In chapter 2, God says that part of his creation is “not good.” “It is not good for man to be alone.” God didn’t make a mistake, but he built a dependency into humanity. We need each other. Adam names each animal and as each one passes we learn that there isn’t a suitable helper found for him. People, we learn, need people.
Flash forward to Jesus’ life and ministry and we see this principle pulled through. As Jesus started his ministry, he first surrounded himself with people. He called out disciples and turned them into dear friends. Here is the big idea for this week: When Jesus calls us to Himself, He calls us to His family.
Our culture is growing increasingly connected in scope. More people are more connected to more people than ever. As the shiny new nature of social media wanes and it becomes our new norm, we’re in danger of replacing deep relationships with a mass web of connectivity. It’s obviously not a negative to be connected to a lot of people, but there is a danger in letting those connections replace deep, trusting relationships. More isn’t a substitute for meaningful, however much easier that would be.
Online we can be perfect. Online we can look like we want. We can take 50 photos and only post the best. We can be celebrated for our best things, and no one needs to know about our weaknesses or shortfalls. While that may feel good in the short term, its ultimately damaging. Because thats not who we are. We are people. We are a mess. We are victories and defeats. We are wins and losses. We are strong and weak. We have good and bad days. The more we only connect to people’s ideals of themselves, the less grace we have for ourselves, or others for that matter, when we or they don’t reach those ideals. In other words we compare our every day to other’s highlight reels.
Part of having deep relationships is seeing other people’s flaws and being inspired by their victories and seeing the faithfulness of God and His strength even through their weakness. Its those stories that encourage us to push through. And its our stories that encourage others to push through. Its the give and take of real relationships, the helping one another, that fills the God given dependency on each other. Connection is a step, but its not enough. This connectivity is actually driving us apart, or at least helping us keep people at arms length on the other side of our walls.
This is proved in the fact that loneliness is on the rise. The General Social Survey (GSS – read the study here) has alarming information about the way we’re trending. The majority of people are declaring that they have no confidant, and the people that have them being mostly relatives. Voluntary social investment in a meaningful way is dropping in a way that should alarm us all. This doesn’t just affect our emotional health, but our physical as well. Having a solid social circle does as much for your health as quitting smoking (check out the article). Its literally a matter of life and death.
This should be no surprise for us, we know “its not good for man to be alone.” Jesus’ antidote for all the negative impact of social isolation was, and is, the Church. We’re called to be a family. In John 17:21, Jesus prays that all believers everywhere would be one, just as Jesus and the Father are one. The standard for our communities is set by the unity of Jesus and the Father. This is a vision for community that goes far beyond our Sunday smiles and social connections. We are called to share our lives, with deep love for one another.
Its good for our health, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and its good for the world to see. That verse we read earlier? It ends like this, “so that the World will know that you sent me.” Our communities centered around Jesus are one of the primary ways that we show the world that Jesus is God.
You hurt when you’re isolated. The people in your life hurt when you’re isolated. The world around you misses your witness when you’re isolated. This should not come as any surprise to us though, because after all, its not good for you to be alone.