"No, no one." Her response was short and without emotion. Her teenage daughter's lifeless body would soon be picked up by the funeral home. After much anguish, this mom had consented to have the organs "harvested" from her brain-dead daughter.
The single mother left the hospital alone. She had no one to call. No one to help her through this nightmare. No one to go home with her and comfort her. She had no one.
"Surely there are not that many people like her are there?" my wife asked me.
"I'm afraid there are," I replied. So many ICU waiting rooms I've been in have had people with few, if any, family or friends to support them. In our increasingly atomized and disconnected mobile culture, many people have few really close friends.
One of the opening declarations of Scripture about us as human beings is that we were not made to be alone. (Genesis 2:18) We were made for fellowship with God — walking with him in the cool of the day is the image we are given before sin broke that fellowship and led to God's children hiding from him. (Genesis 3:8) This break in fellowship with God also led to the breakdown of fellowship between God's children. (Genesis 3:12) Even the worship of God became the occasion for fellowship to be further destroyed because of sin. (Genesis 4:1-8) So much of the rest of the biblical story is a story of fragile fellowship ending up in fractured relationships as sin further and further isolates people from one another.
Luke described this fellowship with these words: "All the believers were together and had all things in common." (Acts 2:44 NIV) This definition still remains the ideal for Christian fellowship. These early days of the Church's life provide us the powerful reminder of what we not only need in our church life, but also what we must pursue as churches. More than people meeting in their isolated silences on Sunday, church must be a place of warmth, inclusion, shared lives, and genuine fellowship. Without it, we remain as isolated and alone as the woman who left her daughter's lifeless body in the hospital and entered her dark night of grief alone.
God made us for fellowship — real, genuine, share our lives with others fellowship. While this fellowship may involve our participation in a big worship experience, it definitely must involve our participation in smaller gatherings where people know us, love us, and we share our lives as well as our meals together. God made us with a need for fellowship and he has called us into his forever family to have that need met. Don't settle for merely going to church and gathering with a bunch of strangers, but search until you find a place and a people where life is shared and fellowship is restored.
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