Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
One lesson that I have learned over the years is the importance of staying connected with believers. This past weekend I was able to join my church’s youth group on a camping trip, and I cannot explain how excited and blessed I feel to see how connected we all are! All weekend I had the thought of the verses I listed above, except we were a thirteenfold chord...which would be nearly IMPOSSIBLE to break.
I naturally have a very strong sense of independence. I tend to approach ministry and life in general with the attitude “I can do this on my own.” Certain aspects of that kind of stubbornness were good when I was younger, like the fact it protected me from following the crowd, which inevitably is not always good. As I’ve gotten older, I can see the pride that this attitude holds, which stops a growing relationship with God. I’ve also found, there is no true happiness and joy in living life independently. Just like the verses above, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.”
For that reason, when asked for advice I try to encourage others to remember: “Do not isolate yourself. God is not calling you to do this on your own.” A lot of bad decisions and sinful lifestyles are born out of loneliness and isolation. Loneliness can lead to dating or marrying someone unsaved. It can lead to depression and thoughts of suicide. It can lead to drug and alcohol addictions. It can lead to friendships with people that will pull you away from God. Everyone struggles with some weakness, and the moment we isolate ourselves from God’s people, that weakness can take over and destroy us. And the more attached we become to our sin, the more we isolate ourselves from church, our families, and ultimately God.
God rarely calls people into isolation. That goes against the backdrop or bigger picture of the Bible. Even God Himself is seen as one God in three persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The natural set up that God gave us for strength is the family unit, which should add stability, strength, and accountability. Beyond just a family unit though, the Church was created for individuals and families to be connected into the body of Christ. If someone tells me that God is calling them into a setting with no church, no fellow Christians, and no family, I would argue that you may be listening to someone’s voice other than God’s, because the Bible is clearly calling you to be connected.
With all that said, this weekend was so encouraging to see 8 teens and 5 adults enjoying friendships and discipling each other to grow closer to the Lord. It just proves to me that God knows what He’s doing. He created a plan and roles of authority that we can either follow and experience His joy, or kick and rebel against and find continuous heartache and confusion. Being part of a thirteenfold chord is going to positively affect the decisions each one of us make this week, considering if one of us messes up the other 12 would come find that person. In fact, I’ve already noticed a renewed love and connection with the Lord in myself, something that I would have missed out on if I had been disconnected. Just make sure to stay connected and prioritize your church and family time! Guard that connection carefully, because I guarantee the devil will be trying to disconnect you in whatever way possible. Just like the lamb who strays away from the flock is an easy meal for wolves, the person who strays away from the church is an easy target for the devil.