We are all social animals. We yearn to share our lives with others. Those who don’t know how to play well and get along with others are sometimes referred to as sociopaths. It’s a condition contrary to the normal drive we all have to share our lives with others. Some people are better at it than others 28 fellowshipbut all of us want it. There may be times when we need to be alone just to reconnect with God. Jesus was so surrounded by people that he regularly took time away from people to reconnect with the Father. But that was always a temporary practice. It ended and Jesus returned to His ministry with others. God never intended for us to be lone rangers and to enjoy the things of life as individuals totally apart from a larger community. There would be no need for the Church if He did! No one is wise enough to live alone. No one is strong enough or good enough to go it alone. When we try to isolate ourselves from others sooner or later we’ll learn that God was right when He said in Genesis 2:18, “it’s not good for man to be alone.”

The Church is God’s program in which we share our lives with others and others share their lives with us. The Greek word that is usually translated as “church” is ecclesia. Its literal translation is “gathering of people.” It’s only in communion with others that we can find fulfillment and happiness in life. When Paul was isolated in a Roman prison he wrote the letter to the Philippians. He begins his letter to them in Philippians 1:3-4 by saying, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…” Then he adds that he is praying for them “with joy.” What would cause his memory of them be so joyful. The answer is in verse 5; “because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now.” The comment about the first day drives me back to Acts 16 and the founding of the church. He only had three converts; two women and one man. They were extremely different from each other. Lydia was a rich business woman. The slave girl was just that; a slave! Then the soldier comes to Christ. In all you have 3 economic statuses. You have 3 classes. You have two genders, you probably have two or possibly three races. And yet these three came together in a “partnership” to promote the Good News about Jesus.

It reminds me of the Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R. Tolkien’s task force is made up of individuals of disparate origin and ridiculous diversity that exceed any of our ethnic or social differences: four hobbits, tiny beings with large, hairy, shoeless feet; two men, warriors of the first rank always dressed for battle, one wizard, Gandalf the ancient nemesis of evil, an elf, Legolas, from a fair race of archers of the forest with pointed ears; and a dwarf, Gimli, a stout, hairy, axe-wielding creature from the dark chambers under the mountains. These are very different kinds of beings yet they were bound together by their great mission to defeat the forces of darkness and save the world. In their journey they experienced so much together that they became inseparable. Two of the more radically different beings, the dwarf and the elf became such great friends that Gimli was inducted into an order that had previously been reserved solely for elves. The church is made up of many different kinds of people as well, but our common bond, The Gospel, unites us with an unbreakable bond.