‘The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” ‘(Genesis 2:18 NIV)
When God made this statement, He was not talking only about marriage but also about the fundamental human need for companionship. The late Mother Therese of India was one of those who was exposed to the worst of human suffering. Living and ministering among the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, she had seen it all. When she was asked what she considered the greatest of all human suffering, she replied “Loneliness”. God never intended us to be alone.
‘Aloneness’ happens when we are not properly connected in lively relationships in the communities God has placed us in. God never intended us to be disconnected people. Look at it this way: Relationships are those connecting cords that help us mine the treasures buried in the community we are placed in. Without good relationships we cannot tap into these treasures.
It is possible to be in a large church such as ours and find oneself alone and not really connected into the life of the church. Being around plenty of people doesn’t necessarily remove this ‘aloneness’. Before Eve came, Adam was alone, despite the multitudes of creatures around him. This was because he could not have communion on any meaningful level with them. In the same way, we can be lonely in the midst of a crowd if we do not find friends who can share life’s pains and joys with us to a meaningful depth.
We all join a church with the desire to get the best for our lives. We want to mine the treasures that God has placed in the Church for our lives. Yet those treasures can only be fully accessed as we connect deeply with our church community.
This is why the life groups in our church are so important. These weekly gatherings of members of our church, in small groups in various homes and coffee shops are essentially created to help relationships happen and deepen. This was what the early Church did in the Bible. Not only did they meet in large gatherings of thousands in the temple, they also gave priority to meeting in their homes in small groups to deepen relationships (Acts 2:46).
Now it may seem ‘safer’ to come and go in a large church like ours without going deeper. I can understand this because relationships can be messy. I too have scars that are there because of coming too close to people. But you don’t throw away roses because of their thorns. Roses are beautiful – thorns and all. Yet relationships do not only bring beauty to our lives, they are vital to our lives. Consider this: Without connecting properly with those with whom God has surrounded us, we shall never become all that God plans for us to be.
For me, life group is where I get to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice; (and) mourn with those who mourn’ (Romans 12:15). Life groups provide a safe place where we can share our lives with others who share our faith and values. It is a place where we can grow deeper as we ask and answer questions; identify, use and develop our gifts in serving others and experience the deeper meaning of the church being a family.
My family and I always make it a priority to join a life group as soon as we start attending a church. We ask God to guide us in selecting one. And we always find that there are treasures waiting for us there.