Without the presence of other people in our lives who love Jesus and walk with him, we become islands who try to spiritually self-feed and it never works. Despite our delusional belief that we are fine on our own and can spiritually mature via self-appointed authoritative measures (like watching sermons online or listening to podcasts), we need other flesh-and-blood people in our lives who are willing to get involved with our messiness and point us toward Scripture.
For someone who has been in full-time college ministry for over twenty years, I know all too well what self-appointed authority leads to: disobedience.
I have seen numerous young men and women who have walked away from Jesus for a variety of reasons, but nearly all of them have one thing in common—they isolated themselves from the body of Christ.
Mike was a student leader in the campus ministry at James Madison University in Virginia where I was on staff with a campus ministry. He shared his faith, read his Bible, lived with a house full of other godly men, and even interned with our ministry for several years after he graduated.
I kept up with Mike for many years after our time together on campus, but communication waned when he started working as a freelance photographer in San Francisco. I wondered for a while how he was doing, until social media informed me several years later that he now mocks the faith he once shared.
A mutual friend of ours told me that he never got involved with fellow believers when he moved west, and his spiritual isolation was the main contributing factor that led Mike away from God and toward unbelief.
Sadly, Mike is only one of several examples I could give you, and you can probably think of some personal examples too. It genuinely makes me sad that so many of us have a tendency to move away from others and toward isolation.
But make no mistake—the spiritual danger is very real when we pull away from others. Watch any nature show and you’ll quickly learn that predators set their sights on prey that isn’t a part of the pack. It’s easier to successfully attack when the prey is all alone with no one around to offer help or protection. We can learn from this example. There is a great deal of relational health in godly community, providing us with guidance, love, counsel, empathy, and grace.
Our enemy, Satan, is no idiot, so wouldn’t it make sense for him to try and isolate us from Christian community and godly influence? We need others to point us toward the good news of the gospel and remind us of the truths we’re so prone to forget about. Isolation breeds forgetfulness.
The body of Christ is just that—a body—and it works as a living, breathing community of Christ-followers who help us remember that our Savior gave it all up for us and He’s worth following through all of life’s ups and downs. We are forgetful people who need frequent reminders from others to remember the truth.
For further study and encouragement: Proverbs 11:14, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27