In the midst of great divides, the treasure of sharing a special connection with others is increasingly precious. It cannot be overstated that much of the suffering people face today is in the feeling of being cut off from others. In many ways, we were already sliding down that slope. In pre-pandemic months and years, isolation fostered by mere illusions of connection offered us by technology were already gripping with an icy hold the hearts of people, freezing their sense of hope and true connection with others.
How is this possible when the means to connect with others has only become increasingly easy? Because with that ease has come the ease of pretending to be something one is not. What we see in our shallow connections with others over social media and video technology are carefully packaged presentations of people who put on display either a semblance of perfection to show how “together” one is or the outlandish deviations people can concoct as they attempt to draw attention to themselves and feel special and unique.
What we are not getting are authentic connections. We are not getting real love and acceptance, but likes and shares that grant us illusions of love and uniqueness. How very lonely then for us since just as surely we only share our pretend selves with others, others only share pretend selves with us. There is no true “knowing” of another in this way.
How precious then is what the child of God has in Christ and shares with other Christians as we let down our masks of whatever we think we must pretend to be. When we courageously admit how weary, broken and hurt we are and, yes, even our guilt as fallen individuals, we experience a moment of truth in which we can confess that while we are each sinners, we share a common forgiveness in Jesus Christ which binds us eternally with one another. “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5 ESV).
Not only that, but we share so much in Him that any “joining together” we experience in the world outside of this special bond pales in comparison. “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6 ESV).
Perhaps this is why the Scripture in Philippians 1:7 resonates with us as the writer speaks of how he feels about other Believes, no matter the miles that separate them. “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace.”
When mostly what we hear about is that which would divide us, I hold to my heart that there is something infinitely wonderful at work, binding my life to my brothers and sisters in Christ: the grace of God in Jesus. The world and its troubles may try to drown out that beautiful truth with the noise of hate, fear, and despair, but as I turn again and again to the Bible, the Word of God, I see that I share with each Child of God something greater than all the temporary treasures and pleasures of the world.
Will I always agree with everything another Christian says or does? No. Will other Christians always “feel” close to me and I to them? Again, no. But these things cannot alter the truth of the special bond that I share with others who have received God’s great gift of forgiveness and eternal life through Christ. This truth is a special truth that Christians must especially hold dear and demonstrate for the world around us now. As people feel increasingly “cut off”, the authentic connection that only Jesus can bring to His people is a life-saving promise those around us need to see, hear, and experience. So let us cherish it, commit to experience it more and more, and let us share it. The time to do so is now.
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com.” Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at [email protected] Viewpoints expressed are the work of the author.)