“No One Stands Alone”
The church where my faith initially took root and began to grow legs had a motto, “No One Stands Alone.” I wasn’t a part of its development; I don’t know who came up with it, or what debates may have surrounded its selection. What I do know, however, is that it spoke to a deep need of me and my friends: to know and to be known. That slogan has remained with me as sort of a DNA-like implant on my soul: a church should be a place where no one stands alone, whether at a party or in the darkest hour of need.
Yet, still, this is much more easily said then done. We naturally gravitate towards folks we know, folks who have common passions, interests, and hobbies. In isolation, there’s really nothing wrong with this. But the people of God should somehow be different; there should be a constant “intentionality”, or focus, to practically everything we do. Whenever we gather, the radical expression of hospitality should be right there with us as a subtext. There is always an opportunity to be the voice of welcome, the face of hospitality: all you have to do is too look for those who are standing—or sitting—alone. Welcome them into your conversations; find out what their story is, and tell your own.
I am a self-confessed introvert; one of my favorite off-handed comments is basically, “Yeah, but everyone knows that I don’t like people.” This is obviously meant to be humorous, but I know that this is brokenness and sin in my life — I intensely guard “my time”, and am reluctant to engage “the stranger” in hospitality. At the same time, I burn with indignation and conviction when I see people standing alone, staring at the backs of groups of strangers who are engaging in the well-practiced art of exclusion. The church has become much to adept at this, and we need to stop.
In the same spirit of John’s 1st letter (“We love because he first loved us”), we should welcome others because we were first welcomed by God. We have come from being radical outsiders to the very people of God, and now it’s our turn to look with the eyes of the welcoming Savior to find those who are waiting to know us, and to be also known. What if the next time you attended a worship gathering or event at “church”, you took a moment to pray to God, asking him to give you eyes that would recognize the outsider, the lonely? What if you invited those who were sitting by themselves to join your friends? Your family? I think it would start a quiet, radical revolution of love and invitation in our communities.
One thought on “No One Stands Alone”
You know, I’m having the opposite problem right now. I’m a well-practiced people person, and thrive off of interaction with others. My husband says that when we come home after hanging out in a big group, it’s like I have a buzz about me, like I’m the most alive I’ve ever been. And this is absolutely true. But the reality is, I’m currently spending Sunday morning alone in bed, face to face with my own sin.
I let conversations and interaction with other people take the place of my time with God, really being intimate with Him. It goes fine for awhile, I make do. Or at least, I like to think I look like I make do. But after long, I realize my soul is completely dry and just needs to be hydrated with Jesus. I have to stop, be alone, and really LISTEN to what God is trying to tell me.
But even now, sin gets the best of me. Currently I’m reading several blogs, have Facebook and Twitter open on other windows, constantly refreshing, hoping to indulge in words from other PEOPLE, rather than words from my Creator.
On that note, I should probably go, reckon?
See you later.