What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a blessing? For many people, that word has something to do with position, possessions and prosperity. If we have a good job, we’re blessed. If we have a nice house, we’re blessed. If we make good money, we’re blessed. The problem with that logic is the number of people in the world that consider themselves blessed and have none of the above. Are these individuals playing by different rules? Absolutely.
Choices can be overwhelming, especially when those choices have to be made from a multitude of options. For as long as we might sit and wait for one of those options to jump out at us, we will ultimately still have to make that choice. Thriving in life works much the same way. We can’t just sit and wait for it to happen, we have to choose it.
Investments. Some of us spend our entire lives trying to make the right ones. We dream about a huge return somewhere down the road. With just the right move now, our future can be secure and promising. And most of the time, those investments are in things. What if we did it differently?
Are we there yet? It doesn’t take long for that question to come up on a road trip. Why? Because any trip is always understood in terms of the destination. We know we’re not done moving until our “here” is “there.” While there are mile markers to celebrate along the way and good things that happen in the moment, if we haven’t reached the destination, there’s still ground to cover. Immanuel has seen incredible things over the last year, but we’re not there yet. Amazing things await us, just ahead.
An online poll asked the question: Do you ever go to the movie theater alone? 32% of the almost 2000 participants said, “I prefer to go with someone else.” 11% felt that going to the cinema alone was “totally weird,” and would never do it. Have you ever wondered why so many of us feel this way? Perhaps it’s because the best experiences are best when they’re shared. Even the least consequential parts of life (like movies) feel funny when we can’t talk to someone else about what just happened. Following Jesus is no different. In fact, the Scriptures take it beyond a suggestion, and make doing life together a rule.
When you’re sick, where do you go? When you have a toothache, who do you call? Have you ever noticed that healing rarely happens in isolation? We need a doctor to heal physically. We need a counselor to heal emotionally. What if healing spiritually is no different? It would only prove God right because that’s exactly how he designed our path to wholeness: with others.
Have you ever said these words before? “I’ve never thought about it like that.” Do you realize that you’ve never, ever said that to yourself? It’s always because someone other than you offered their perspective or experience to you. Suddenly you understood some idea more deeply and with more clarity. It seems that the best learning happens with other people. New discovery. New understanding. New meaning always come within the context of community, including learning about God.
While we often cite individuals as the heroes of discovery, it is rarely one single person’s work. We talk about Benjamin Franklin as if he alone discovered electricity, but scientists named William Gilbert and Thomas Browne were already experimenting and writing about it when Mr. Franklin flew that kite. Think about explorers Marquette and Joliet discovering the ability to transport goods on the Mississippi from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. They did it together. “Finding God” is no different––it’s best done with other people.
In 1988, a review of research was published indicating that social isolation is on par with high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise or smoking as a risk factor for illness and early death. It’s safe to say that a lack of social interaction is literally bad for our health. And in a society that is increasingly isolated, it seems like we’re all at risk. Community is written into the very fabric of what it means to be human––maybe this is why God sees it as vitally important too.
Have you ever had doubts about Christianity? Do you ever wonder if it’s true...if Jesus was really Jesus? We often throw these kinds of questions at the people we look up to spiritually. Because their faith gives us faith. But what happens if the person’s faith you are depending on goes down? You go down too. The good news is that Jesus anticipated our doubts and made space for our wrestling. He wants the faith to be our faith.