Surely this life was meant to be lived in relation to other humans. The second creation narrative affirms "It is not good that the man should be alone..." (Genesis 2:18, ESV), making the case for the creation of woman, the perfect fit. Even more, Scripture reveals the best-case scenario for a stable civilization: a group---family, clan, tribe, community, nation, church. And, it's more than psycho-babble or socio-speak. Living this life in commuinity is a deeply spiritual truth, Long before John Donne said "no man is an island", or Hillary Clinton said "it takes a village", Solomon wrote "two are better than one".
It's a hard sell in a world that worships the unholy trinity of "me, mysefl, and I". There's safety in self-absorption, protection from the hurt and brokenness so often under the surface of human entangle- ments. There's less bother when accommodating the needs of others isn't on the to-do list all the time. The quiet and solitude can be somewhat addictive when we can occasionally steal away from the rush and mangle of human drama. When Jesus warned his disciples of trouble in this world there was little doubt he included human dynamics in the equation. Every day he had to deal with their ambition, internal suspicions, sheep in wolves clothing, well-intentioned dragons, and all of the vagrancies of human nature. The sons of thunder wanted to incinerate a city with fire from heaven, Peter cut off a man's ear, and several got in a dispute about who would be the greatest. They were human to the core.
Then, there's the stuff about us. . "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given" (Isaiah 9:6, ESV). Or, what Paul was inspired to write, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31, ESV). For the life of me I cannot trace the use of the plural pronouns through the entire Old and New Tesatments. But, there is ample evidence that the church Jesus is building is one of multiple regenerate parts. I mean, the body of Christ references in the Pauline Epistles are about the intricate, inter-related and mutually dependent parts of the spiritual body, the us of our faith. None of us, as gifted and talented as we are, is the complete package. To hack it in this life we need other people.
There have been two distinct times when I entered a church as "me" and left as a "we". One was on March 10, 1973, when Harriet and I were married at Hayes Barton Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. We experienced the mystical union of "we" in the covenant of marriage. Each of us left "me" at the altar and became a joined "we" in the celebration of those vows. That union was a symbol of the mystical union each of us experienced when we responded to his call and professed his as Lord. Harriet and I didn't become Christians at the same time. But, in those two instances as well, we left the church as part of the body of Christ, the "we". We learned about "us" in both cases.
Here's the deal just now. Many people are trying to go it alone today and it just doesn't work. One of my intentional goals for the New Year is to invite as many people as I can to discover the joys of "us" in the practice, experience, and mission of faith. Research used to say each of us encounters 28 people every day. With social media and mobility that number has no doubt sky- rocketed. If stats are correct, perhaps fifty per cent of them are living outside the body of faith. This mision field is every where I look.
There's more. Many of us know and celebrate the plus sides of "us" in faith---worship, fellowship, partnership, stewardship, and discipleship. Many serve in leadership, and as a result are often on an island alone. My heart is so troubled to know the many pastors, church staff members, and even denominational servants who live solitary lives on that island apart from the intimate blessings of "us". Some are there by choice, knowing that leadership requires some distance at times. Others are placed there simply because they dare to represent God in the mission which He has been entrusted to them. One of my goals this year is to find them, embrace them, encourage them, and let them know they belond to "us".
One of my favorite Scripture verses is 1 Corinthains 12:18: "But, as it is, God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose". He delicately placed each of "us" in the church, so we would be a part of Christ's body.
Occasionally, I need to remember "Us".