You’re {Not} All I Need?

Try to look up the following phrases in your Bible and you won’t find them:

“my everything”

“my all in all”

“all I need”

These phrases are popular in Christian music. They’re also quite common when talking about relationships.

Josh and I started dating during the “I Kissed Dating Good-bye” era of youth group. Everyone around us was kissing away their relationships and we were just…kissing. We actually got a lot of flack from people that we were choosing to remain in a relationship without having a written contract that we would someday marry each other.

(No, I’m not bitter. Why?)

We were only 17-years-old and we felt it was unrealistic to promise that someday in the future we would marry each other. Although we were serious in our relationship, we knew that it was foolish to pin all of our futures on our own hopes and dreams. We trusted that if God didn’t want us together anymore it would become apparent.

Anyways…there was one night at youth group I can vividly recall. The song was “You’re All I Want” and I was in tears…because He wasn’t all I wanted. I wanted to have my boyfriend, also. I loved Jesus, I put Him first, but I didn’t know how to reconcile my desire for earthly companionship with the words of the song.

::

Last month we were in Washington for vacation and we got the opportunity to listen to our brother-in-law preach at church. His sermon was on “Spiritual Community” and he made a comment that stuck with me for days afterward:

“Christianity is not meant to be lived in isolation.”

The reason it resonated so strongly with me was because this seemed to be in opposition to what I’ve always believed about my relationship with God. Isn’t He supposed to be enough? Aren’t we sinning if we admit that we want more than what He has to offer?

In those times in my life when I feel lonely I assume that God is letting me know that I need to look to Him for my companionship. That I need to be content in all things; both community and isolation. However, as I’ve looked into it over the past few weeks I’m starting to think this isn’t necessarily biblical.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone…”

There you go…God even said it. We were meant for companionship. Right there in the garden of Eden, God recognized that Adam needed another like him, a human companion.

Now, in no way am I only talking about marriage. In fact, I don’t believe that marriage is enough. We are meant to live in community. One individual is not to fulfill all our needs.

Throughout scripture there are numerous references to the value of companionship:

…and 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… Hebrews 10:24-25a

Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend. Proverbs 27:9

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. Ecclesiastes 4:10-12 (emphasis added)

Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

A Time and a Place

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Mark 1:35

Solomon says there is a time for everything.

There are times for seclusion and solitude. Jesus frequently stepped away from the crowds and His chosen companions to pray and seek God’s direction. However, those times were for a purpose and always concluded with Him returning to His friends.

The Son of God chose to surround Himself with a group of men and women. He had perfect harmony with God, His Father. Yet in His time here on this earth He sought out companions. Yes, He was preparing disciples for when He returned to heaven, but they weren’t just tools for His purposes. He loved them. He wanted them to accompany Him.

The gospels record instances of His asking certain individuals to join Him for important events, including His transfiguration on the mountain with Moses and Elijah and while He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had His friends by His side.

We Who Had Sweet Fellowship Together

For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it; nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend; we who had sweet fellowship together. Psalm 55:12-14

I’m not sure where the idea that God would ask us to reject our need for companionship comes from. I never questioned it before because it sounds legit, especially in those times when I have been hurt in friendship. Then, I feel safe hiding in my shell and acting like it’s because I’m uber-spiritual and only need God. It’s hard to seek out community. It means we’re opening ourselves up to rejection, and that’s scary.

But the alternative is scarier.

God, Himself, said it is not good for us to be alone. Over and over scripture describes for us the benefit to being in community: encouragement, support, growth, counsel, and a partner in the battle. We are not meant to live this life in solitude.

As in all things, God is the provider of our need for companionship. Just as I need food and water to stay alive, clothing and shelter to stay warm, He knows I need others to make it through my time here on earth.

Seeking first the kingdom of God, I can trust that He will not only provide me food and shelter, but also friends.

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29 thoughts on “You’re {Not} All I Need?

  1. Christian fellowship is one of the many beautiful gifts God gives us!! And I’m so thankful for my family in Christ, in particular my sweet sisters in the faith. Thank you for reminding me of these truths from His word.

    • How many times has the scripture about loving each other as He loves us been used to guilt us into tolerating others? You nailed it, it’s not something we need to tolerate…it’s a gift from God. He provides for all our needs and one of those is community. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  2. Wow. Great post. I’m with you. I’ve been hurt so many times in friendships that I’m still wary of giving myself to someone and setting my self up for rejection.

    But community can’t just be the people we interact with at church on Sunday and then go about our merry way until we meet again.

    Community is about the relationships we cultivate while we are walking this journey. It’s about sharing the good, the bad, the ugly – and it’s about grace. Lots of grace.

    THanks for stopping by today. :)

    • Great point Mary! It’s not until you’ve shared the good, the bad and the ugly that you know the extent of the friendship, in my opinion. And grace…is it possible to maintain a relationship without it?

  3. He provides us with the need for companionship and we choose to lean on the companions He brings. Definitely not easy to live in community. If He truly is “everything” to us then we’ll live in this and seek it like we do Him.

    Interesting approach, Melissa. Thanks!

    • I was a little leery about posting this because I wanted to make sure that my meaning was clear. From your comment I think it was. He’s given us the need, He’s the one to fill it. :)

  4. It was a good sermon. I watched Craig via the website. I was excited about that kind of fellowship, specifically when he talked about his LTG group that “got serious.” I remember how often I would hear from God through those relationships.

    On another note though I asked Dr. Adams once in Hebrew class about the Old Testament and worship. He said there isn’t anywhere in the Old Testament that a person praised or worshiped God for no reason. They always worshiped because of something he did. Their worship was ALWAYS a response. Thanks for my crops, thank you that my daughter is home safe, thank you we won that war, etc, etc, etc.

    it’s funny to me that we have so many worship leaders that say, ‘can we have everybody just stand up, and take a minute and lets worship god just because of who he is. Not because of anything he’s done for you, just because of who he is. This is irony to me because who he is, (the content of his character) is defined by what he does.

    But the idea behind it is that we find some higher, stronger, (put more weight on the bar, oh ya, we can bench press 450 spiritual pounds) way of worshiping. “C’mon people push!!! push!!! C’mon you can do it. He’ll show up if we push harder!!!!

    I’m so tired of this.

    You’re right though Melissa. We we’re not meant to live this life alone. Well said.

    • I get what you’re saying about worship, and to an extent I agree. It used to annoy me when the worship pastor would say, “Let’s clap our hands & yell real loud for 2 minutes,” and then take out his watch to time us.

      But…it’s our decision how we respond to that. Because I know that there is always something I could worship God for more about. I frequently take for granted the things He does for me.

      I also get tired of feeling guilted into worship by worship leaders (i.e. “How loud would you be yelling if your favorite sports team was winning). However God is starting to show me that those times come down to Him & me…and I need to not let others distract me from praising Him. Hope this doesn’t come across guilt trippy because I really am right there with you in this and that’s why God is showing me this stuff…and I’m still working on my badititude. :)

  5. “Aren’t we sinning if we admit that we want more than what He has to offer?” – HE’s the one who offers us the blessings in our lives (husbands, children, family, friends) So, actually, we are NOT asking for more than he offers. All good gifts come from God……

    Nice article!

    • Exactly my point! I’m glad it came across clear, I was a little worried. :) And our family and friends truly are gifts from Him. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Loved this Melissa! I’ve been praying for friends.. Godly ones to come into my life..friends that are part of the community I live in.. But when I pray this there is always some guilt for asking.. For many reasons.. This post was just the reminder I needed today.. And I laughed out loud when you spoke about the “I kissed dating goodbye” era in youth group.. I remember it well! :)

    • I recognize that guilt because I feel it. That’s kind of why my brother-in-law’s words caught my ear. I had convinced myself that my desire for local friends was a result of my discontentment with God’s companionship. I did the typical, “Jesus is my best friend (boyfriend/ girlfriend/whatever)” this thing that I’d heard so many others say. I’ve found such great community online, so I thought that was the season I was in. Now, instead, I’m keeping my eyes open for the relationships God is placing in my path…ones that I might otherwise have missed because I was focused inward. Praying for you Dana, that you find those same relationships in your local. Love ya, Roomie! :)

      • You know what’s funny, is I used to say God was my husband, back when I was a single mom living with just Corbin. But in a way it was true. I could feel His hand in every part of my life, protecting us, encouraging me. I could never explain why my finances worked out during that time. It just didn’t add up on paper, but there was always enough for what I needed. Also, I was very aware of Him shielding me from loneliness. That was how I knew it was time for me to start looking out for Jonathan, because one evening I felt that shield drop, and I reached out to the Lord, and He said I had spent enough time alone, and was strong enough in who I was in Him to share myself with someone else. So I guess what I’m saying is, if God has set aside a time for someone to be “alone” that is when He will step in and fill that place. But if he is allowing you to feel that need, it might be Him telling you to look around for who He has to supply it.

        • I’m glad you said that! I don’t at all disagree that there are times when God satisfies an aspect of relational need for us. I know so many women who said they weren’t interested in getting married or having kids…and then one day that changed. Like you said, He shielded you from loneliness and then when it was time for you to reach out to others for it, you felt the need. Also, during that time you also had family and friends who surrounded you. You were still in community and had companionship other than God. Also, just to cover my tracks…I don’t think that if someone is feeling lonely they are not trusting God. I feel lonely…a lot. Like you said in the other comment…I’m still trying to figure it out. Hence my tagline that I’m a work in progress. :)

  7. Thank you for posting this. I really get what you are saying. I think people do take the “You’re my all in all” thing too literally, and it has confused me as well. How can I sing that while standing next to my husband, my children, my mother? I agree with you, God does come first in my heart, but there is room for others. I think marriage needs to work this way too. Too many couples invert on themselves, becoming each other’s only family, only friends, only companion.

    I also like when you write things that sound like you’re figuring it out as you typed it. :)

    • Part of the reason I always felt guilt about this was this verse in Matthew 10: “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me…”

      In all the times I read it I never noticed that it said “more than me.” God isn’t telling us we shouldn’t love our family or friends. It’s the priority. God must come first. At first I thought that was from selfishness — but then I realized, family and friends will let us down, hurt us and they will eventually die. God will never let us down, He will never hurt us and He will never leave us. When Grandma died, we knew that even though we didn’t understand, God was still good. Due to that fact we can go forward with our lives. It doesn’t mean that we don’t wish she was still here, it just means that we are trusting in God, He means more to us.

      Imagine if our spouses, our children, or others were our all in all. If something ever happened to them we wouldn’t be able to move forward because they were our everything. With God, we always have someone to fall back on who, more than anyone else, has our best in mind.

      I figured this out as I typed. :)

  8. What a beautiful post. I have heard that many times, we are not meant to do Christianity alone. I said to a girlfriend the other day, “Oh…you didn’t know I’m spending the night at your house? Well, I am!” When you can get to that place of total comfort to just “BE” and not think…it’s refreshing.

    Even when friendships are a struggle – to understand each other spiritually or otherwise – to allow each other to grow at our own pace – to love each other even when we’ve been hurt – and to be willing to forgive.

    A true friend loves all the way through that and sees you on the other side. If God tells us to love our enemies, how much more do we need to love our friends? This is the deep river of companionship and it’s a blessing.

    Can’t wait to catch up soon, neighbor!

    • Being without thinking! I put my foot in my mouth all the time. Since my pregnancy with Silas it’s gotten even worse. I have so much trouble correctly communicating what’s in my head. The last couple of weeks I’ve had to go back to people and clarify statements because I was worried that I had offended them or come across different than I actually felt. I hate doing that. I hate having to be overly careful. I love those relationships where you know if something comes across wrong they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt because they know you. But even then, it’s so easy to take those relationships for granted and get lazy. Still with my husband I have to remember that even though he knows so much without it being said, I need to say it sometimes. :)

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  11. I think it also has to do with the heart of the matter. If I am in a relationship (friendship or family or dating) I am still called to look to God first. People will ALWAYS fail me in how they love me and ‘fulfill’ me. When I look to relationships to give me happiness, joy, comfort, love, validation, etc. that’s when I’m violating what God calls us to in community or even marriage. However, if I am looking to relationships to enrich my relationship with God…to look to be challenged, held accountable, and encouraged in my walk…that is part of the importance of community. He is the ONLY one who will never fail me and who will COMPLETELY satisfy me. I need to look to Him first in ALL things. It is when I start looking to relationships to fill something…when I make relationships and idol…that I fail living in community. God is a ‘yes, and’ God. He is all I need AND I am called to right relationship with Him and people.

    • I 100% agree with you. What I was addressing was the false theory that I’ve come up against that says we are to be satisfied in our relationship with God alone and to want any other relationship is sinful. You’re so right in saying that we need to look to God first, and that people will fail us. What I meant to highlight was that sometimes people feel like God should be all they need and then feel guilty for wanting a spouse, friend, child, etc. I believe that God created that desire within us and that to be in relationship with others is an extension of our relationship with Him. :) Thanks for your comments and providing the other side of the coin.

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