I want to ask you some questions. Really process through these. What do you think?
Why do you have friends?
Why do people want to have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
Why do people get married?
Why do people start families?
Why do we hate being lonely?
At our core level, human beings crave connection. From the beginning of time we have been forming bonds, building family groups, combining family groups into small communities, and growing those communities into villages, towns, cities, nations, and empires.
We all desire contact and relationships with other humans. In fact this is more than a desire. This is a NEED. According to this Psychology Today article, “babies who are not held and nuzzled and hugged enough will literally stop growing and-if the situation lasts long enough, even if they are receiving proper nutrition-die.” Lack of touch can be detrimental to the health and development of children. This impact can be seen in overcrowded orphanages around this world.
The answer to the questions I began with can be summed up like this: We were created for community. What’s more, we were created FROM community.
The Bible opens with the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2. God creates the stars, planets, vegetation, animals, and everything during the first six days. After all of this creating, God then created beings to be placed in charge of taking care of it all.
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26-28 | NLT)
I love what author, pastor, and YouTuber Jefferson Bethke has to say about this passage:
Created FROM community and FOR community. In the beginning there was perfect oneness. Man and woman were created as two halves of one whole. Eve was created from Adam’s rib, or side (Genesis 2), that they should be side-by-side partners, neither above or below the other. (For further explanation, check out this article.)
Both man and woman were created from God’s Image (Gen. 1:27). Both man and woman embody the divine image. We are God’s representation on earth. As such, we are at our best when we are in a loving, committed community.
Connection. Unity. Love. Respect. Intimacy. This is what we are made for.
So how are your relationships going for you?
How well do you get along with your parents?
Are you and your siblings close?
Do you have a tight-knit group of friends you can count on no matter what?
Do you know that your significant other is committed to you and only you?
Most likely one or more of these relationships has some degree of dysfunction. Why? Because we are terrible at archery.
Let me explain.
SNAKES AND ARROWS
The story of the first humans continues in Genesis 3. All is well until the serpent tricks the woman into eating the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They had ONE rule – and they broke it.
I don’t have time to get into the full significance of that story right now. What matters is that the humans disobeyed God by taking matters into their own hands. They didn’t trust God. They didn’t believe that God wanted the best for them. They thought they knew better than God. Sound like any of your relationships?
When the serpent talked Eve into eating that fruit, a little thing called “sin” entered the world. As soon as that happened, “their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves” (Genesis 3:7 | NLT). Worse, God shows up soon after – you’ve seen that trope in countless sitcoms. He’s right behind me, isn’t he?
So Adam and Eve hide. They hide from God. They felt shame. They felt alone. They are now separated from God and from each other in a way they’ve never experienced.
“Then the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?'” (3:9 | NLT)
We don’t talk about the word “sin” much outside of a church context. The word just sounds so….churchy. But the word for sin is actually from the world of archery. In ancient archery contests, if an archer missed the mark, the judge would call it a “hamartia,” the Greek word meaning “to miss the mark.” The shot was off target. This video explains the concept really well:
When Adam and Eve sinned, they “missed the mark” of being God’s image bearers. They failed in what they were meant to do. And the consequence of sin was and is separation. There was a newfound separation between humans and animals (3:14-15), between mother and child (3:16), between husband and wife (3:16), between humans and nature (3:17-19), and between humans and God (3:22-24). The ultimate separation would be death (2:16-17).
DISEASE: SIN // SYMPTOMS: SEPARATION
CURE: LOVE // SIDE EFFECTS: CONNECTION
Fast forward to the book of Exodus. This tells the story of how God, through Moses, delivers his people from slavery in Egypt and forms them into a new nation. They escape Egypt after a series of unfortunate events and make camp in the wilderness at the base of Mount Sinai. God summons Moses to the summit. There God gives Moses the Law which was to be the foundation for this new community.
The first ten of these commandments, we’ll call them “The 10 Commandments,” set the course for the rest of the story of Israel (Exodus 20:1-17).
- You shall have no other gods before Me
- You shall not make for yourselves an idol
- You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God
- Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy
- Honor your father and mother
- You shall not murder
- You shall not commit adultery
- You shall not steal
- You shall not bear false testimony
- You shall not covet
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. (Ephesians 5:25-30 | NLT)
Practice some self-care this week.
Take some time for yourself.
Determine which relationships are toxic or dysfunctional. Take a break from those relationships and reevaluate their purpose.
Do whatever helps you be the best you. Maybe stay away from social media for a while. Maybe instead of getting sucked into a group chat until 2AM, read a book. Spend some time in Scripture or prayer. Find a really good Bible study – the YouVersion Bible App has tons of great studies for free right in the app. Work on your own emotional and mental health.
You can’t pour from an empty vessel. You cannot love others unconditionally unless you start with yourself. You only get one you. You are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). Treat yourself that way. Your body is the Temple of God’s Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Honor it, cherish it, respect it. You bear in your body the very Image of God. Recapture that image and let it shine through.