You need other people. This is counter-intuitive to our modern culture, but it is true. We have become a society of people who do not live together, do not work together, and do not support one another. Our friendships often are little posts of social media about what perfect meal we just ate, what beautiful vista we just saw, or what frustrating politician we want to disparage. But such pseudo friendships have little to do with helping us when we really hurt.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 – 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 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! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, in the middle of his despair about the worth of life, Solomon points out how much human beings obviously need one another. One man alone cannot make it. One woman alone is not enough. We need support. We need to live in community. We need someone to pick us up when we fall. We need people to encourage us when we struggle. We need people to help us see when we are wrong.
In ancient Israel, community was a lot easier. You did not move away from your family land. Generations would live together on the same piece of property. Little compounds grew up where four generations would live up close to one another and share the load of the family farm. In the community, men gathered at the city gate to discuss the needs of the community and set right wrongs.
But in our culture today, people believe that we can live as total individuals, totally alone. And, for a time, you can. But in the end, most of us will realize that God has not designed us to live in this world alone. In Israel there was the gathering at the city gate and the family. In post-exilic Judah there was the Synagogue. In the New Testament era, there is the local church. And God has never designed people to live outside of those kinds of communities.
Think about your life. Where is your system of support? Who will help you when you hurt? Who will come and tell you when you are wrong, but still love you enough to help you grow? Who will care when you are sick? Who will hurt with you when someone hurts you, but also keep you in check so that you do not foolishly seek to hurt others back?
One person alone has a hard time. Pairs do better. Cords of three are strong. God made us for communities. And this is the beauty of a solid local church. A good church is a family. A good church will bring us together. A good church helps us have the support we need to survive this life. A good church puts people from different backgrounds and different personalities together, and we learn to function together as a unit because we have a common standard in the word of God.
You might say to yourself that this is not your experience in the local church. I’m sorry to hear that. But there are a couple of possibilities as to why this is. It is possible that you, in your experience in the church, have not been open to genuine community, genuine fellowship. If you are not willing to open your life to others in the church, you will not have the community you need. This is a problem you must work to rectify. You must show others that you are willing to be friends. You cannot expect that it is the job of others to seek you out and test your interest in community.
Of course, it is also possible that you have been in a bad local church; they exist. Find out if your church loves the word of God highly. If it really loves the word and not simply the concept of being a big church, it will be open to stronger fellowship and greater community. Talk to your pastor or elders. Ask how you can help establish greater community.
The point that Solomon made 3,000 years ago is still true. We need community if we are going to survive in this hard world. How will you find it?