Consider this illustration:
A man was walking in a wilderness. He became lost and was unable to find his way out. Another man met him. “Sir, I am lost, can you show me the way out of this wilderness?” “No,” said the stranger, “I cannot show you the way out of the wilderness, but maybe if I walk with you, we can find it together.” (Emery Nester, Stories for the Heart)
I don’t know about you, but I have felt lost in a pandemic wilderness the past few weeks and I don’t know how to find my way out. I surely don’t want to navigate this unfamiliar and frightening territory by myself all alone. We were not made for social distancing, but for togetherness and community and close relationships. Before sin ever entered the world and ushered in separation and broken relationships, the Lord God explained in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” The Lord God cared so much about His creation joining together in close fellowship and remaining united together as one that He created humanity in His own image to experience a personal relationship with Him as Creator (Genesis 1:26). In addition, He designed the union between the first man and woman to endure together and never be split apart since He was the One who joined them together as one flesh (Matthew 19:6). Jesus Himself even stated in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather together as My followers, I am there among them.” Coming together as followers of Jesus in the presence of the Lord is a vital component of our faith journey. Without it, we can feel lost and alone.
Dictionary.com defines togetherness as: warm fellowship, as among members of a family. I like that description. Apostle Paul understood what we are facing today as a church family when he experienced a deep longing himself to gather together with his church family while he was confined in isolation within a prison cell. But that did not deter Paul from reaching out and connecting to his fellow believers through a different form, a letter, simply titled Philippians. He desired to continue to encourage this group of Christ-followers facing difficult circumstances to focus on the hope of their eternal togetherness with their Savior, even though their earthly togetherness had been hindered and altered in way they did not prefer. Paul might have been physically separated from this church body in Philippi, but not spiritually alienated.
In Philippians 1:27-30 (NLT), Paul wrote:
27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God Himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him. 30 We are in this struggle together.
Even though you may be temporarily socially isolated, you are not alone. We are joint citizens of Heaven through a permanent relationship with Jesus Christ. Let’s stand together with one spirit and one purpose and fight together for the faith of the Good News about Christ. The Sovereign God has the power to save you from the power of the invisible enemy, but more importantly, to redeem and deliver you from sin and eternal separation from Him. So, let’s keep trusting Christ together and suffering together for Him because we are in this struggle together. And together with Jesus is the best place to be, since He is the only One who can show us the way out of this wilderness, so let’s continue to follow His lead.
Only by His Grace,