This is an excerpt that originally appeared in Centerville UMC’s sermon series Separated. To watch the sermon in its entirety click here.
When I think about how often people fail at something it usually goes back to one thought – they didn’t have enough support. They didn’t have a team, they didn’t have a group of people to stand beside them when the struggle of life becomes too much.
Honestly put, we were designed for human interaction, for human touch, we were designed to be around other people.
The struggle is that touch, because of its enormous power is also very awkward. There is a certain sense of vulnerability to come with that whole touch thing. You know exactly what I’m talking about…. Should we hug? Should we shake hands?
It happens every week as we leave church, we stand in that line and some hug, some shake hands, some aren’t sure what to do. Well, if it makes you feel any better I’m not sure what to do either!!!! I just know that I enjoy seeing your beautiful faces in the morning, so we’ll just keep working it out together.
But that is the very nature of touch, something personal, something encouraging, and something that gives life.
Yet, whenever we get into trouble, what do we do? How do we respond when we feel like we are going to fall off the tight rope of life?
We hide in complete isolation. We decide that we don’t want to talk to anyone, we don’t want anyone’s help. We simply want to be left alone so that we can wallow in our own self-pity.
Isn’t that funny to think about: When life feels like it is falling apart our reaction tends to be to cut on the one thing that can give the feeling of new life? Isolation is a coping mechanism that never makes us feel better.
When we isolate we give credence to the voices in our head that say we aren’t worth fighting for, and the problem with isolation is that you will always get bad advice.
I learned an important lesson when I was working with the recovery community: If left to my own devices I would surely self-destruct. As a matter of fact, this is so well known that they even have an acronym to use when you are about to make a bad decision:
HALT – hungry, angry, lonely, tired.
Don’t make decisions when you are in any one of those states of mind, you won’t like the outcome.
Isolation is one of those things that always seems like a good form of protection, but at the end of the day only ends up hurting us more. Scientifically proven, divinely inspired – we were meant to do life together.
As we examine God’s word it is easy to see that Jesus modeled the same thing for his disciples. When Jesus sent the disciples he did so in pairs, he traveled in groups, he always had someone to have his back.
He also took his alone time, and I don’t want you to think that I am saying that is a bad thing – I’m not. The difference between alone time and isolation ultimately comes down to what you end up sharing.
If you don’t share what is going on inside of your heart, if you keep it all to yourself, then it is quite possible to be completely isolated in a crowded room.
I love what the writer of Hebrews has to say about the topic:
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching
In other words corporate action, social responsibility isn’t just something that we should take on haphazardly, but something we need to give us hope – to continue on the path of good deeds.
If you feel lost – find a community
If you are unsure – find a community
If you don’t yet know Jesus – find a community
No matter what happens, let us not give up meeting, but let us encourage one another – and let us pray that this community always be a place of encouragement.