Isolation is not just distance from God’s people

It continues to sadden, but not surprise me, when people deny, reject, or otherwise abandon that whichImage the Bible says they need.  I am talking about biblical, gospel-centered, community. There have been many times that shepherds, like myself, have “left the 99” to chase after the one sheep who has wandered. Sometimes this proves fruitful.  Most of the time, it is disappointing and draining. Then if, after much time and energy spent, the exasperated shepherd decides to stop actively chasing (even though his hope for return remains), things go from bad to worse.  With no shepherd around, the lying wolves come out from hiding in the woods. And if the wandering sheep stops running long enough to look around, they become frightened. They look back to see that the once “chasing” shepherd has returned to his flock–and the now lonely sheep begins to listen to the lies of the prowling wolves.

After listening to lie after lie, the sheep will often adopt an identity as a victim in their attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors.  The sheep wrongly believes the shepherd never “really” loved them (at least not the way they needed); they wrongly believe that the flock doesn’t care and has forgotten about them (at least not like they care or think about the flock), and they wrongly begin to believe that they are “better off” without the flock (at least this one).

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment. Prov.18.1

Of course, it is rare, if not impossible for anyone who has never experienced community to admit that they don’t really need what they never had. But it is rarer still for those who have experienced community, to admit that they don’t have it anymore.   When challenged about their observable withdrawal from fellowship (obvious to everyone in the community they once shared) they often become defensive.  Instead of listening for the heart behind any admonishment, instead of sensing the pursuit by those they love, they hear nothing but “unspiritual” opinions and feel nothing but attacked.  Blind and offended, they’ll often respond with a carefully prepared list of evidence to prove they haven’t withdrawn–it reads like a time card–which only serves to affirm the contrary.

The truth is, we all need community and community needs all us–we were built for it. When God describes his church as a building, a body, and a bride, it is clear that community is not an afterthought (And even if you don’t believe God, even the world proves that nothing significant happens without community, teams, etc.).  According to the Bible, a community of soldiers helps us to fight; a community of athletes helps us to run; a community farmers helps us to grow; a community of counselors help us to be wise; a community of priests helps us to heal; a community of prophets helps us to learn; and a community of kings helps protect us.  The opposite is also true.  Without community you cannot fight, you cannot run, you cannot grow, you cannot be wise, you cannot heal, you cannot learn, and you cannot be protected.

The Bible is clear. When someone wanders from the people of God, when they cease to listen to the heart-desires of their brothers and sisters, they have isolated themselves away from more than just people. No matter how spiritual they might look, feel, or sound, according to Scripture, those who isolate themselves are self-seeking and no longer seeking the desires of God.

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment. Prov.18.1

2012-02-22T09:17:18+00:00 By |Uncategorized|

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