Sunday morning as I spoke on the subject “Who Needs the Church?”, there was much more that I wanted to say. Let me attempt to deposit some additional thoughts here. For those who were there or who take the opportunity to go to the page where the message is recorded, let me remind you that we spoke of three realities. 1. There are real dangers involved in living in isolation. 2. There are real benefits in relationships. 3. There is a real need to be connected.
Relationships are inevitably messy. They are messy because we all, author included, have a sinful nature. To be sure Christ has changed our lives, but there is a residue of the flesh life that must be dealt with. Jesus said in Luke 9:23 that we needed to take up our cross daily. Why daily? Because the cross is a reminder to die to self in order to live in Christ. Even the very best relationships must be annointed with grace in order to stay healthy and nurturing. Open communication and accountability are a necessity. Forgiveness and kindness should be everywhere available. As in our relationship with God, we should not take advantage of the grace and kindness offered us. We should sincerely seek to make wrongs right, to hear criticism, to try to make ourselves better understood, and to love others for Jesus’ sake. I believe that many avoid relationships out of a desire to simplify life. Tragically, life in isolation may seem to be the simple life, but it usually degenerates into the selfish life. Without accountability and the check and balance of community life, people almost inevitably become eccentric. “Who cares?”, you might say. Not caring is in fact the greatest problem with social isolation. God is caring. Those who see God as isolated and indifferent have totally missed the message of the Scriptures. Whenever we feel forgotten, we can be sure that we are being deceived. A God who became one of us in the person of His Son, expects us to move toward people as He has. We are disfunctional when we do not participate in His purpose of redeeming love. Even pastors are sometimes tempted to withdraw. The last time I checked I found that the source of temptation was the Evil One and not the God who loves me. Resisting temptation involves embracing meaningful relationships with others.