There’s a weird thing I do once in a while, and I’m wondering if I’m the only one. My guess is that I’m not.
Occasionally, I sense a message that Christians are expected to rely so totally on God that we don’t need anybody else. A self-denial, in other words, of the benefits that come from communing with another person….because God should be enough. “Go to the throne before you go to the phone”; that’s how I saw it phrased once.
That is, of course, true. People will fail us; they will give us bad advice; they will disappoint us. God, conversely, is our refuge and strength, the source of all wisdom, the one who will never leave us nor forsake us. And we should go to Him first, last, and everywhere in between.
But here’s the thing:
If you’re anything like me, it’s possible that — at times — you’ve taken this to heart so thoroughly that you feel as if connecting with a human would indicate a lack of reliance on the One who should be your all. (If you’re not like me, and you think I might be crazy, good work: you probably don’t need to read any further). And so, in times of struggling, you’ve poured out your heart to God; you’ve dived deeply into His Word; you’ve journaled; you’ve prayed through the Psalms…and it’s helped. It truly has. And yet, the answers don’t always come immediately (actually, they do so rarely), and the days go by, and although your soul has quieted somewhat, and you’ve grown closer to your Heavenly Father, you still have some lingering feelings of sadness. You try to ignore them, but there they are — and you wonder: what am I still doing wrong?!?
Friends, hear this now: GOD HAS GIVEN US OTHER PEOPLE.
Right from the beginning, God made it clear that it was not good for man to be alone. This truth is reflected in the Trinity itself; in the many beautiful friendships depicted in Scripture (e.g. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi); and in the many injunctions throughout the book of Proverbs to seek wise counsel. In the New Testament, we see at least two powerful indications that God does, indeed, intend for us to seek out other people.
The Body of Christ
As I read through the New Testament, this theme reappears over and over, even when it’s not specifically referred to as such. The implications of this analogy are manifold, so I will focus simply on one passage — from the chapter, actually, that most of us first think of in relation to this topic. Here’s what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:21, 24-26:
And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you” …but God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no divisions in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Did you catch that? We cannot say to another person, “Thanks, I’m fine; I can do this on my own.” In fact, we are called to both suffer and rejoice with one another…and both the rejoicing and the suffering affect the whole body, whether we notice it or not.
The Words of Christ
This is a blink-and-you-miss-it verse, but, despite its brevity, it blows me away every time I read the book of Luke. Speaking to His disciples the night before the crucifixion, amidst a discourse on servant leadership, Jesus says to His companions: “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials.” (Luke 22:28)
Jesus — God Incarnate, the second Person of the Trinity, who had a host of angels at His command — was thankful that, during His time on earth, He had people to lean on. And, in a beautiful demonstration of what it means NOT to lord it over those under one’s authority (something He’d addressed a few verses earlier), He acknowledged as much to His disciples. His flawed, argumentative, often undependable disciples.
Although they still hadn’t fully understood who Jesus was, they knew enough that they must have been bowled over by this declaration. I can’t even imagine how they must have felt. I’m just a regular guy! I’ve blown it so many times. Jesus says I’ve stood by Him in His trials? If “we’re not worthy” is ever the thing to say, this would be the time to say it.
At the end of the day, God is the One who satisfies everything in us that, ultimately, other humans will sometimes fail to provide. And yet, as long as we have these earthly bodies, we need not shrink from seeking out those who are made in God’s image. It’s how He designed us.
And I am so thankful.