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