Not good for man to be alone by Mike Betts

Mike Betts on Lowestoft Beach

Human beings do not function best in isolation. God, when planning creation, said ‘let us make man in our image’.


The plurality within the one true God wanted to create us as a reflection and portrayal of his nature and character. Part of this was making man and woman to rule and subdue creation together. God said of Adam ‘it is not good for man to be alone’. God knew man would never function to his potential, be happy or fulfilled to his potential or reflect the glory of God to his potential in isolation. We need community; we need other people to be fully human.

Our society emphasises the individual, the rights and needs of the ‘one’. God has always wanted a people. What does this mean for us as individuals then?

Be part of the local church
Nothing will ever be found more effective on the planet for human beings to work out their relationship with God and each other than the local church. Every nation, people group, tongue, ethnic group, language, community. The local church is the vehicle to display God in the world. You and I need the local church. You and I need to be somewhere to serve with our gifts, be shepherded and cared for in our lives. A place to enjoy God and the company of other people who know the saviour. What is more the local church, when it is functioning as God intended, holds a magnetic attraction to those who as yet do not know Jesus. When God’s presence is amongst his people it draws others. We do not need gimmicks or to make it less ‘God’ focused. We need a demonstration of the presence of God amongst his people.

Marry someone who loves God
One of the key decisions any individual makes is who to marry. Get it wrong and much pain ensues. Get it right and, as the Bible says, ‘he who finds a wife finds a good thing’. God intends many of us to get married, have children and enjoy these blessings. Some folk God calls to singleness also. My main point here though is to stir what is often a reluctance amongst young people today to make any kind of commitment or take on any long term responsibility. Sometimes fear stops us, sometimes we get too ‘picky’ or set in our ways and no-one seems quite what we are looking for. Sometimes there is a fear of good old fashioned ‘courting’. I am not advocating being a heart breaker, but some folk seem to have to work out ‘is this person the one I will marry?’ from day one. Well, work out if you like them first!
Some cultures have arranged marriages; in that situation all the choices get taken away. Song of Songs says ‘do not awaken love until it so desires’; there is a time for everything under heaven and marriage and commitment of that kind are not to be rushed or something we become overly anxious about. God has your life in his hands and is caring and guiding you in all things. My main concern is that folk do not live as single islands afraid to take some godly risk and accept some godly responsibility. Also just to say, in looking for a marriage partner – do not marry someone unless they love Jesus more than they love you! By marrying someone totally committed to following Jesus you will have all the resources you need together to face and work through all the twists and turns of life and come through after years of marriage still loving the saviour and still loving each other and being able to give witness to the faithfulness of God through all of life.

Develop Christian friendships
‘Bad company corrupts good character’ we are told in Corinthians. Who you mix with is important. Not just in the choice of who to marry, but also in who you hang around with, who is influencing you. Who do you open your life to? Who shapes how you think? Once a few devoted followers of Jesus start serving him and inviting their friends around the ‘vibe’ of a Jesus loving community it is infectious. People start coming to Christ. That is not to say you should retreat into a Christian ghetto – Jesus himself was known for hanging around with the most outcast and least ‘holy’ people of his time! But be sure to strike a balance and, in these friendships, be counter-cultural in how you are a friend. Model something different from the friendship found in the world. Make it Christ like.

What else surrounds you?
The world we live in is getting smaller. When we get home and lock our front doors for the night, we are not truly cut off from the world as a few clicks on the laptop immediately opens Facebook and puts us in direct contact with far more people than we have the capacity to interact with. Email can connect us instantly with any mailbox on earth. Twitter delivers updates from anyone we deem worthy to follow directly to our desktop, or increasingly, pocket via the mobile phone. Through Skype we can have a face-to-face conversation anywhere. We can follow blogs, subscribe to podcasts, become a passive observer of anyone’s views as many more millions of pages of content are added to the web month by month. And who knows what the next social media tool will be? Interaction is no longer just about the two-way connections we choose to make out in the world, but the incoming stream of media we subject ourselves to, a 24/7 flux of influence and peer pressure. Now, all of the above are mere tools and can very much be a good thing! But even if we have fantastic friendships, a wonderful wife (or husband), and a Christ-centred church, we must be aware of the other things we surround ourselves with – we can sometimes spend more time supposedly ‘alone’ with these wider media than we do in other situations. Strike a balanced diet, and choose your influences as carefully as you’d choose your friends!

Time out
Jesus himself modelled the benefits of retreating to a solitary place (such as in Luke 4). None of the above discussion is meant as a contradiction of that! But there is a difference to having time out in solitude and building a life alone. We should build lives rich in relationships, and, in all of the busyness of life, we must find times to rest, and times to be alone with just us and God. Be sure that your times ‘alone’ really give you chance to connect with God – simply moving to a different place to be busy with the same interactions does not count! In all things though, whether with others in family, friendship or church, God has built us for relationship. Even our times alone are spent in relationship with him. Don’t resist this key trait that God has instilled in you, embrace it and seek to build lasting relationships – a quality that will seem increasingly counter-cultural in our throwaway consumerist society.

Mike

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