The Creation of Eve by Michaelangelo
Several children’s lives remain in peril in the wake of a stabbing spree in a suburban Pittsburgh high school. On April 9, a 16 year old male student, for reasons still unknown, randomly stabbed a school guard and 21 fellow students as he quickly moved through the school’s hallways wielding a steak knife in each hand. Miraculously, no one has died from his wounds.
The incident is yet another chapter in a string of senseless acts of violence in American schools that includes mass killings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Co.; Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va. (2007); and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Ct. (2012). Unfortunately, there are several others I have not listed here. In almost every case there is a common thread—the perpetrator was a loner. Whether this was the case in the attacks in Pittsburgh has yet to be determined.
Medical studies abound indicating that loneliness and isolation are health risks. Social interaction, on the other hand, can improve health. It has been scientifically shown to decrease the likelihood of premature death, improve the immune system’s response to infection and decreases inflammation in the body.
Regardless of the task at hand, be it raking the lawn, preparing a meal, searching for a new job, or simply going to see a movie or museum, it is usually a better experience when done with another.
There is also plenty of Biblical evidence indicating isolation is not good. In Genesis chapter 2, God declares, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” He then creates Eve to be Adam’s mate, companion and friend.
In Exodus chapter 18, Moses is extremely weary because he tries to govern the Jewish people by himself. His father-in-law Jethro advises Moses to appoint judges to help him with his tasks. Moses wisely takes the advice, relieving him of the heavy burden of trying to go it alone.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV), tells us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” There truly is strength in numbers.
Isolation is particularly risky for Christians. Pastor Paul David Tripp discusses the perils of isolation for the clergy in his book titled, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. According to Tripp’s research, many pastors feel lonely and isolated. A study by the Schaffer Institute showed that over 1,700 pastors leave the ministry every month. Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression. Eighty percent of believe their pastoral work has negatively affected their families. However, feelings of loneliness and isolation are not limited to members of the clergy.
Christians are all members of God’s church on Earth. 1 Corinthians:12 describes how individual Christians, each blessed with different gifts from God, are necessary for the proper functioning of the church. Each body part serves the others. Christians were designed by God to function best when working with and in the presence of other Christians.
Acts 17:1-2 says it was Paul’s custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. Luke 4:16 tells us it was Jesus’ custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. When Paul won new converts to the faith, he gathered them into small churches, which usually met in private homes.
With so many examples before us, how can Christians do otherwise? Yet many choose not to attend church, insisting they can worship God on their own. Many have turned sour towards the church because of some sort of hurt they experienced there.
On the night when he was betrayed by Judas, Jesus told his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-34, ESV) Obeying this commandment requires reaching out to other people. It cannot be done living in isolation.
Hebrews 10: 24-25 (ESV) tells us, “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.”
If you’re a Christian, attending church isn’t simply that you need the church; the church needs you as well! Fellow believers can be blessed by your participation in ways you’ll never know. Likewise, you will be blessed by just “hanging out” with your brothers and sisters in Christ. A church is not a building; it is a collection of people who gather together to seek God. Don’t try to go it alone. It will lead to loneliness and isolation. Choose to participate!
“Despite the slowness, the infidelity, the errors and sins it committed and might still commit against its members, the Church, trust me, has no other meaning and goal but to live and witness Jesus.”