"So, how do I know if I am guilty of the sin of isolation or if I am just not a 'people person'?"
That was the most asked question after last week's message! As I urge us to greater connection and community with each other I don't want anyone to fall into condemnation because they don't glad-hand everyone in the room every time. Remember a few things:
1. It's not the quantity of your relationships, it's the quality. Who do you "go deep" with? With whom can you express the hopes, fears and struggles of your heart? With whom do you go from "friendship" to "fellowship"?
2. Who are you inviting into your "inner circle"? Are you reaching out to new people? Are you ingrown or outward focused? Are you a welcoming person, even to one person at a time?
3. Each person is in a different place on the relationship continuum: singular relational, small group relational, or multi-relational. But be careful of the extremes at both ends. "Singular" and "multi" can both be ways of avoiding the risk of relationship.
4. Is the gospel transforming your relationships? Consider this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
"He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners (emphasis added). The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. The fact is that we are sinners!"
"But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; He wants you alone."
The Bible tells us to "welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you" (Romans 15:7). The gospel tells us how Christ has welcomed us; unconditionally, grace-fully, completely, enthusiastically… (you get the point). Now, wading in the river of God's grace, welcome others the same way!
The well wisher of your soul's happiness,