“No man is an island”. You’ve probably heard that phrase before reminding us that we were not designed to be in isolation from one another. I once took a Myers-Briggs personality test that measures in part how introverted or extroverted a person is. When i was younger I scored almost right down the middle between introvert and extrovert (maybe slightly tilted introverted), but more recently I scored more heavily introverted. That’s my own personal experience and I wonder if others also feel that trend in their own lives, but what is happening out there in society? A recent NPR article reported research that Americans are feeling lonelier, and it is worsening with each generation: . We can point to certain advances in technology, increased screen time (and conversely decreased interpersonal interactive time), and our innate self-centeredness and drive to be self-reliant and not “need” anyone that has contributed to this phenomenon. What then are we to do?
First, we need to acknowledge our need for one another in Christian fellowship – not just intellectually, but in real actionable ways. When I am hungry and I acknowledge that need, I go to the refrigerator or pantry and take action to feed myself. Likewise, if we can admit we need other men and women speaking into our lives and are able to speak into theirs, we ought to look for those opportunities whether it be in growth groups, Bible studies, informal gatherings (“hanging out”), and service opportunities. We need to set it as a priority and we can’t just wait for people to come to us. At the same time, we need to be open and approachable so that those who are seeking that fellowship are greeted with an open and welcoming attitude – this is especially true for those of us who feel like we have found that needed community and may be locked into a “comfort zone”. The writer of Hebrews speaks of how we can be used by God in one another’s lives (ch. 3:12-14): “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” The writer reminds us that evil and sin are working to harden our hearts. But because of our “sharing” in Christ, we ought to be exhorting each other to help us to persevere to the end. We are in a group race to the end and our goal is not to beat everyone else, but to make sure we don’t lose any of our fellow brothers and sisters along the way.
In a day and age where we literally have “virtual reality” and there are so many artificial surrogates to gratify one’s need for interaction, let’s take time to reflect on how we are spending our time and resources to share in Christ and make time to see that our needs of fellowship and the needs of others are met for the sake of His Kingdom and glory.
John Chung is a Ruling Elder and occasionally leads worship service on Sunday.