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Congregation, Not Isolation


In the beginning, the Lord punctuated His series of creative “Let there be’s” with this simple principle: “It is not good that man should be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) But it was only shortly after that when mankind sprinted headlong into isolation. The result of the first sin was that Adam and Eve hid away from God during what should have been the highlight of the day. Then the accusations flew against one another as both sought to save their own skins. We see that sin left people with nothing but separation, both from God and from each other. Thus it has been ever since that when we find isolation depicted in the Scripture, it’s often in the context of lament and suffering. Consider David’s words, “Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) Or who could forget the despair of lonely Elijah, “I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” (1 Kings 19:10)

Sometimes, such isolation comes as a form of God’s judgment against sin. We might think of proud King Nebuchadnezzar, to whom the Lord announced through the prophet Daniel, “You shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field.” (Daniel 4:25 ESV) Separation was also the form of judgment designed for the Judaean exiles in Babylon—separation from their homes, separation from their temple, separation from their worship. But the most severe form of forced isolation to be experienced in flesh and blood belonged to our Savior. He was the one who “was despised and rejected by men . . . as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised.” (Isaiah 53:3 ESV) Isolation from both man and God was His lot, as He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34)

Thankfully, such separation was not God’s will for you. Though it was the devil’s intention to cut mankind off from God, our Father declared that the only enemy was Satan. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her Seed.” (Genesis 3:15) At that moment, Adam and Eve had
     been united with Satan and at enmity with God, but God flipped                        
    the narrative. God
     and man would
be reconciled, brought together in the peace of sins forgiven. This was accomplished by those lonely hours endured by your Savior on the cross. There He laid the foundation for your reconciliation both with God and with one another. Now, to a people for whom isolation and lament and loneliness was a bitter reality, God has replaced those sorrows with joy and companionship and fellowship, as “God sets the solitary in families.” (Psalm 68:6)

This coming Sunday, consider your Christian family and the opportunity to gather with them. As Jesus reclined to distributed His body, blood, and forgiveness to a gathering of His disciples, now you have the opportunity to gather and receive the same. As you pray the Lord’s Prayer, you will say, “Our Father,” not “My Father,” for you are not an only child. You were baptized into a family of believers, the Communion of Saints. When you sing, you won’t be the lone voice echoing in an empty room; instead, you’ll be joined even by “angels, and archangels, and all the company of heaven.” So, gather with your fellow believers this Sunday, for the Christian congregation is a most blessed assembly, as your Savior promises, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)

Samuel Rodebaugh is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Winter Haven, Florida.