We are living in a time where we are more connected than ever. I can scroll down my feed, like and comment, switch apps, double tap, view stories, and respond to multiple messages. I can be “friends” with friends on a variety of different apps and spend a number of hours a day staying up-to-date on what’s happening in the lives of others. But even with the means to interact and connect with one another, half of Americans see themselves as lonely.
In a nationwide survey of 20,000 adults, 54 percent of respondents said that they feel no one knows them well as reported by NPR in 2018. In addition to that, 56 percent of people said that the people they surround themselves with are “not necessarily with them” and about 40 percent said they “lack companionship,” their “relationships aren’t meaningful,” and they feel “isolated from others.” Further research shows that social connectivity is a part of our well-being and suggest that health providers gather information about a person’s social connections and social isolation.
Those are the symptoms — the symptoms of the brokenness we experience. Whether or not we can fully articulate how we feel, human beings long for companionship, authenticity, and the reality to be seen for who they are.
While we are more connected than ever, we may not necessarily be living in community with one another.
Isolation and loneliness puts us in a place of vulnerability. The world will tell us that we are alone and it’s supposed to be that way. People are too busy — don’t burden them with your problems. No one will understand anyway. In a western culture where we value independence and self-reliance, we are taught to believe that we are meant to do things on our own. With this mindset and mentality, we gather with one another only to put up a front of who we really are. We conceal our struggles and our fears with the hope that if we suppress our feelings, emotions, and experiences, somehow it will get better in time. But God never intended for us to live life on our own. He calls us to community.
Community is first found in God himself. When we look at the trinity we see God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In creating humankind, God desired for us to be in community with him and with one another. God says in Genesis 2:18 that “it is not good for man to be alone.” Adam was seen in the Garden of Eden and he was known by God. And even when Adam was in community with God, God still confirmed in His word that it is not good for man to be alone.
All throughout Scripture, we see the relationship between God and His people and people in relation to community. This is reflected in John 13:34-35, where Jesus says to his disciples, “‘a new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” After the death and resurrection of Jesus, God established the Church, which is the body of Christ, as a community of believers.
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I believe that no matter where we are or where we go, God invites us into community to teach us, mold us, strengthen us, and remind us that we don’t walk this life alone. We need each other to laugh with, cry with, mourn with, and pray with. As the body of Christ, God says to us in 1 Corinthians 12: 25-26, “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
We are to “bear one another’s burdens” as it is written in Galatians 6:2, which fulfills the Law of Christ. Hebrews 10: 24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” James 5:16 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” This is what God calls us to.
Being in community is transformative to how we know and experience God. It is essential to growing in our walk with Christ. Not only does it allow us to experience His love through other people, but it also gives us the opportunity to serve others in love — the love that redeems, restores, heals, and never gives up on us.