Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Demon Possessed Man: Part 5 - Solitary Places

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...he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. -Luke 8:29b

I sit here, writing to you as a self-acknowledged introvert, currently sitting in the beautiful relief that is the solitude of my office (one of my office-mates decided he's going to eat earlier than everyone else and spend his lunch breaks in the office with me... Needless to say, I'm feeling a little frazzled right now), I can't help but find this verse poignant.  I am the queen of solitude.  I go on vacations by myself and weeks will go by without me speaking to anyone.  I am well on my way to a promising career as a hermit.  That's not to say that I'm not out-going.  I'm the most outgoing introvert you'll ever meet.  I talk to people; I socialize... But I do prefer to spend my Friday nights working late then curling up with a good book.  And I definitely need time to myself, or else I find myself on the verge of a meltdown (Thank you, Sensory Integration Dysfunction).  In my world, solitude is one step from Heaven... until it's not.

Like all people, I get lonely.  Sometimes, even in the midst of a SID attack, all I want is people (well, specific people) around me, assuring me that everything is going to be okay and I will make it to the other side of this attack, just like I have every other attack before it.  Frequently, I regret my pattern of solo Friday nights, especially when I try to call friends and they all have plans - who can I blame but myself for that?

A while ago, I began to wonder why this was.  "Clearly," I thought, "G-d made me for solitude as a general rule."  G-d would be my all, and I would follow him.  Why else would He have made it so hard for me to be around other people?  But then, I joined a small group, and that small group was studying Christian communities.  I was quickly exasperated by the topic.  I didn't want anyone telling me I needed community, especially not the kind intimated by the group.  Sure, I wanted friends, but not ones who had rights to my time as they pleased and certainly not ones who felt it acceptable to speak into my life whether I wanted to hear from them or not.  That was the kind of community we studied, and I'd had enough of it within two weeks.

But slowly, ever so slowly, I began to wonder if they were right.

Here's the thing, G-d Himself is always in perfect community.  He never leaves it.  He's never left it.  He never will leave it.  Because He Himself is perfect community.  There's G-d the Father, G-d the Son, and G-d the Holy Ghost.  They're the 3-in-1: The Perfect Community.

Do you understand what Christ gave up to come to us?

He left a perfect community that He had known for all of eternity to come to a world that thrived on alienation.  He left a perfect community that had to turn its back on Him at the most trying part of His life, because He became tainted by our sins while on the cross.  He left a perfect community that was, in essence, the definition of who He was to face the cruelty of humanity on His own.

It's no wonder He was always surrounded by His friends.  He had His followers; He had His disciples; He had the apostles; and then He had the inner circle of Peter, James, and John.  Only on the rarest of instances did He set off "alone," and, when He did, Luke reports to us that He wasn't really alone, but, rather, "full of the Holy Spirit." (4:1)

In American culture, we're tempted to call this a weakness.  What?  He couldn't even handle being on His own for a bit?  I remember when I had to...  But, I ask you, when is it ever easy to constantly be around people (and keep them coming back for more)?  This is one of those moments when American thinking is just flat-out wrong.  Community isn't a sign of weakness; it's a sign of G-dliness.

We are called into perfect community because G-d is perfect community.  When we accept G-d into our lives, we become part of Him, and He becomes a part of us.  As He does this for all believers, we become a part of every believer as well, just as they become a part of us.  We are designed to crave this; that is why loneliness happens at all.  We aren't supposed to be alone.  That's the first lesson G-d ever taught us:

The L-RD G-d said, "It is not good for the man to be alone..." -Genesis 2:18

So... Why are we so intent on it, then?  Simple.  Satan knows we can't handle a lack of community.  He knows that "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:12)  He brings us apart on our own to try to pull us away.  There is nothing to sharpen us, to challenge us if we're on our own.  No ways to show love; no ways to show Christ.  Without the body, how can we be in G-d?

Thoughts to think about.

<<Part 4                                                                                                                                       Part 6>>

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