Early last month I wrote a blog post extolling the disciplines of Silence and Solitude to unlock the treasures within our innermost being. Many of you readers responded, telling me how much these disciplines have helped deepen your spiritual lives. The impact of that blog post seemed to be so strong that I now realize I need to present the other side of the coin to bring some healthy balance.
God not only designed us to need time for being quiet and alone, He also designed us to communicate and be in fellowship with other people.
The Biblical Basis for Communication and Fellowship
After each act of creation God pronounced His work as “good.” But after creating Adam, God said, “It is NOT good for man to be alone.” He created Eve, not just for Adam, but to produce the human race, so that human beings could communicate and have fellowship with one another.
David was a great warrior and reigned as a strong king, but he didn’t do this alone. He had his “thirty mighty men” with whom he planned strategies and on whom he depended for victories and safety.
His son Solomon wrote a poem eulogizing the concept of partnership to work effectively, to help each other, to provide mutual comfort and safety. It was written on the flyleaf of my parent’s Bible and read during their wedding eighty years ago, “Two are better than one . . . a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Eccl. 4:9-12)
Jesus chose twelve special disciples to be with Him and later sent out seventy followers to do ministry all over Palestine. He sent them in pairs, not alone.
Jesus also promised His followers that whenever two or three gathered together in His name, He would be there with them.
The apostle Barnabas chose Paul, and later Paul chose Silas and eventually Paul was joined by others like Luke and Timothy to travel with him.
North American Cultural Bias to Independence
We North Americans have grown up to value independence and self-sufficiency. We honour the rugged pioneer who, on his own, braved the wilderness, and carved out a homestead for himself and his family. We teach our children to be independent, even our schools focus on training students to work independently. This self-sufficient characteristic leads to shallow relationships, and lack of commitment to others.
Yet, as Christians we need to realize that independence and self-reliance are not biblical values. God designed us to live and work together with others, to be interdependent—each of us depending on others, and others depending on us. God loves to see us, His kids, being honest, open and transparent with each other, working together for the good of the whole group and to meet the needs of others. He values interdependence and practices it Himself. He has chosen to work through us in this needy world. The hands of believers are His hands, our feet are His feet, our mouths are His mouth, through which He speaks and works.
God Speaks to Us Through Other Believers
As we are in fellowship with others, living, learning and working together, God tends to speak to us through the actions and words of other believers. We can all remember times when others held us accountable, encouraged us, or taught us a needed lesson. We have done the same for others, comforting, correcting, and sharing our joys and sorrows. We have been challenged to live better by looking at the lives of other believers. And we go to church, not just to sing some worship songs and listen to a sermon, but to develop relationships with other, likeminded children of the Heavenly Father.
A New Year’s Resolution That God Will Help Us Keep
My prayer is that, in silence and solitude, we will all make a resolution to develop some deep level relationships with others during this new year. Let’s write out the resolution, then find some person we trust, tell them what we have resolved to do, and ask them to hold us accountable.