The Danger of Isolation

I have never heard an acceptance speech at an awards ceremony that started with "I'd like to thank me, myself, and I for all of the hard work that it took to get here. I couldn't have done it without me." I've also never seen an acknowledgment section of a book contain the author's own name. Why? Because great accomplishments require a great effort by a great team.

If that's true for recording artists, film producers, and authors, then the same should be true for us as Christians. No great work for God can be done alone. Not only do we need God, but we need each other. The danger of isolating ourselves from the kingdom of God-- His people--is that we become unqualified for the work for which He created us.


The Body of Christ

When you give your life to Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you are automatically brought into the body of Christ. What's more, you're not a duplicate or a fill-in; in the body, you're placed into the spot that was made for you. God has a unique place for you that only you can fill. When we close ourselves off from God's people, we unwittingly disconnect ourselves from the Spirit of God which gives us strength and life. We think we can do it on our own, but by disconnecting from our source we will inevitably fail--lacking what we need apart from Him.

You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
— 1 Corinthians 12:12-18 (MSG)

We're Better Together

God's plans for each one of us are far greater than we can accomplish on our own and He created it that way on purpose. When we choose not to isolate ourselves, and instead live connected in the body of Christ, we are provided with everything we need to glorify God in the pursuit of His purpose for us.

No one is perfectly capable because no one is gifted in every area. It's more difficult to become prideful when we keep ourselves focused on our collective strengths and our collective purpose. Simply put: we are not enough. But God is enough. He provides for our weaknesses not just in His power, but in the collective strength of His people.

But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
— 1 Corinthians 12:19-26 (MSG)

Choosing connection instead of isolation is a risk; it takes trust to rely on others. But it's also a risk to remain isolated. Try as you might, you cannot live the full life God planned for you if you do it on your own. Remaining in isolation means remaining in our weakness.

God has called you to greatness--not because you are great, but because He is great and has a great purpose for His people together.