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 our normal drive to share our lives with others. Some people are better at it than others, but we all want it.  There may be times when we need to be alone to reconnect with God. People so surrounded Jesus 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.” We need others.

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.” Only in communion with others can we find fulfillment and happiness in life. When Paul was isolated in a Roman prison, he wrote the letter to the Philippians. In Chapter 1, verses 3 and 4, he writes, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy.” What would cause his memory of them to 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 businesswoman. The slave girl was just that; a slave! Then the soldier comes to Christ. In all, you have three economic statuses. You have three classes of people. You have two genders. Some have argued that you also have 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. The church is also made up of many different kinds of people, but our common bond, The Gospel, unites us with an unbreakable bond.

David Platt argues that it’s the differences we have that attract us to one another and make us more effective in what we do in groups. “It’s challenging at times, but it’s good. And what makes it good is that we are not the same, but that our differences are what make it good.”[1] This is not only true in a marriage but also in all community relationships. Although God was talking about the creation of the woman in Genesis 2, I believe he had the whole idea of community in mind when he said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” Even though Paul wasn’t married, he wrote many letters promoting unity in diversity.

[1] Platt, David. 2011. “Biblical Manhood & Womanhood—Part 1.” In David Platt Sermon Archive, 3032. Birmingham, AL: David Platt.