We live in a world that loves to celebrate independence. There are very few people who have no use for it. I joke regularly with people that I will be incredibly responsible about finding someone else to be responsible, but even I have a love of independence. We love the idea of being able to do things well and with absolutely no outside help.
That’s not to say that independence is a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. But like so many good, wonderful things, we humans are really good at finding the line between “good thing” and “too much of a good thing” and merrily skipping across it. We take independence, a wonderful sign of growth and strength, and turn it into a manifesto of self-sufficiency and isolation. And one of the greatest casualties of our need for independence is our ability to rely on others.
We hate relying on other people. Not because we think they’re incapable of helping, but because we absolutely loathe the idea that we might not be able to do it all ourselves. Relying on others is something that we can absolutely get on board with as long as we’re not the ones who need to do the relying. It’s all perfectly fine and good until we’re the ones needing help.
But what if we think of it in terms of boxing? The boxer is an incredibly able and independent athlete. Their sport rests on their shoulders, and theirs alone. There’s no teammate to point to if something goes wrong, no one else in the ring at the moment of the fight but them and their opponent. But when the bell rings, and the boxer staggers over to their corner, who’s waiting for them? Their coach, and no one gives it a second thought.
No one thinks twice about a boxer’s coach picking them up and helping them get a breather while they sit and wheeze on a stool. No one calls them weak for needing that support. No one laughs at them for needing a breather. No one sticks their nose in the air at them having someone watch from outside the ring to help them strategize. No one mocks them for literally having someone in their corner to help them. We don’t see anything strange about it. We recognize that the boxer is in a demanding situation and that support is a necessary element to get the job done. So why are we any different?
God didn't build us to live life in isolation.
He makes that abundantly clear in his word. Time and time again, the Bible reminds us to stay together, build each other up, support one another. And then, just to be sure we really got the message, it tells us again. One of my favorite illustrations of our need for fellowship comes from Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
Our need for fellowship is not just a nice little add on to our lives. It’s essential to our survival. We need each other, for support, for help, for strength, and so much more. Like the boxer in the ring, you are not going to make it very far into your fight if you refuse to have anyone in your corner. You may look cool and edgy for a moment, but with no one to give you a breather and help you strategize between rounds you will lose faster than you could possibly imagine. We are not made to do life alone.
Which leads me to my next point. The voice that tells you you have to do it without any help and must struggle alone is not from God. It’s not a helpful voice, it’s not giving you any viable wisdom, and it’s telling an outright lie. God created Adam and then pretty quickly decided that “It’s not good for man to be alone.” and I don’t think he’s a God who changes his mind very readily. Ever. If you’re feeling pressure to stretch your independence to the point of isolation, that’s the world’s heart for you, not God’s.
Why would the world have such a vested interest in you keeping away from solid fellowship? For the same reasons Ecclesiastes wants you to run to fellowship: we are stronger together. This world is drenched in the darkness and pain of sin, and it does not want anything resembling the strength of the Lord flourishing. So of course it’s going to try to snuff it out wherever it can. It’s just a little extra unfortunate for us that it chooses to do so in underhanded ways like whispering quiet lies that confuse the truth. But be that as it may, we cannot afford to listen to them.
Investing in fellowship is not always an easy choice but has lifesaving value in the long run. This world is going to throw absolutely everything it can at you and if you try to do it alone you will not last. Plain and simple. It is not good for man to be alone and you are no exception to that rule. We need each other. Life is going to be hard enough without us trying to go it alone, so we may just be better served by trusting that God knew what he was talking about and getting some solid people in your corner.
Let’s find some joy,