Gilland: We need each other

Group of friends

There is much irony to be seen in our current everyday life. In a culture that is absorbed in this thing called “social media,” it would seem to imply that every living, breathing person alive today has dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands, of friends.

Yet, the truth is, for all of those “friends” and “followers” listed on our social media accounts, many are spending their actual time alone. Alone in thought, alone in their homes or offices. 

In spite of connecting with dozens of people daily online, we are becoming more isolated than ever. More and more, our young people are becoming prisoners to their screens, buying in to the societal norm that “everyone is living like this, so I must do the same.” 

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2020 study published in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found links between social isolation and a variety of health issues, including premature death. One-third of all U.S. adults age 45 and older reported feeling lonely. 

But we do not need a study to tell us this. You only need to look around in a restaurant and observe the number of people sitting at a table, but not engaged with each other. Their faces are down, peering into their phones.

The pandemic didn’t help matters, sending people into lockdown and limiting even the space between each other to 6 feet, all while wearing one or more masks. What could go wrong in such a scenario? 

Well, quite apparently, much. We are in another crisis, although some are not even aware of it. It is the dangerous condition simply called “isolation.”

At some point, we’ve got to see that not only is it difficult to make it through life successfully alone, it is impossible to do so! Here is a truth: we were made to live in community with each other, to experience true connections with actual people, to interact with other human beings, to have real-life relationships with real-life people.

In “The Gospel-Centered Community,” authors Robert H. Thune and Will Walker comment: 

“Did you ever notice how patient you are—as long as no one is getting on your nerves? Or how loving you are—as long as you’re surrounded by people who are easy to love?…Every one of us is a saint in isolation! It’s in community that our real weaknesses, flaws, and sins are exposed. That’s why community is essential—not optional—for transformation.”

Truth is, we will never be the people God made us to be without community. Both Old and New Testaments affirm the benefit in living our lives in the context of community.

While some believe you can be in complete isolation on a mountain in Tibet and experience “Nirvana,” that is not true for us, especially for those who are believers in Christ. We need each other in the church. And the great news is…we have each other.

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