Reading the story of creation recently I was struck once again by the one thing that God said was not good. Each day He created something and then said it was good. Until the sixth day when he created man. He stood back, looked at the highlight of all His creation and noted that there was something not good about it.
Man was all alone. God said:
“It isn’t good for the man to live alone. I need to make a suitable partner for him.”
That verse has been used many times to teach that marriage is designed of God and that a person is somehow incomplete without a spouse.
While I agree God was clearly establishing the marriage relationship, I think it was about much more than that.
God was establishing our need for community – for others. Not just a spouse but the many other relationships that would grow from this unit of man and woman.
In other words, community.
We were designed to need others.
Sometimes living in community can hurt. We have all had family, friends, co-workers who have hurt us. After being hurt our natural tendency is to withdraw, to decide to not trust others again. But when we do that we are living in opposition to the design God has for us.
One trait most Americans highly value is our independence. Being self-sufficient often is preferred beyond other abilities. We feel “I don’t need you” or even “I don’t need anybody.”
But is that really true?
God said it was not good that man should be alone. Again, I think He was talking about more than a marriage. If that is all it was, then what were His plans for those who do not marry. Would it then be good that they were alone?
Jesus spoke about building the church. Almost all of the New Testament is addressed either to a church group or a leader of a church. It is not a book written for independent relationships.
The writer to Hebrews said:
“…let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another….
Today as I met with my small group after morning worship I realized how thankful I am that Jesus established the church. Moving to a new state where we had no friends, after less than four months I have many new friends. Where did I meet them? At church.
Since church is made up of imperfect people I have been hurt by the church. I have had some terrible experiences with people from church. But those bad times are far outweighed by the blessings and wonderful relationships the church has given me.
When we live isolated from others, both we and others are poorer. We lose the benefits of the gifts their friendship could bring us – and we rob them of the benefits our gifts could bring to them.
When I think of this need for community I am reminded of one of my daughters who was afraid to love again after she had experienced a painful hurt. My first husband had been killed in an accident and my daughters had been the ones to find his body. It was a horrific experience for them. When I decided to marry again my daughter told me she would never love the man I was marrying.
Concerned about that statement I asked her why. She said she liked him, was glad I would be happy again. She was not against the marriage. But she was never going to love him because she was never going to allow her heart to be hurt again. If she loved him, he might die and then where would she be?
I assured her she did not have to love him or anyone else. If she shut him or others out of her heart she would probably never experience the terrible loss that death brings. But in the process, she would also shut out all the joy that loving others brings.
Thankfully, she grew to love him and open her heart to love.
Looking back at my life and seeing how much I have moved from place to place I thank God for all the “community” I have experienced and I realize just how much heaven is going to be great when I am reunited with those I have been blessed to call my friends.
Thank God for all those who have filled my life with joy.