May 15, 2011
Only The Lonely – Part 7
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Ecclesiastes 4: 1-16

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Quest for the Best challenges us to live in fear of the Lord to find meaning, purpose, and fulfillment because our Creator alone holds the answers to our most profound questions about life and eternity.

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Let’s take our Bibles and turn to Ecclesiastes, Chapter 4. If you’re with us for the first time this morning, we are in a series of messages on the book of Ecclesiastes. We hope you’ll come back, bring your Bible and join us on this journey through this wonderful book. A book that challenges us to find our meaning in God as it relates to life. We’ve called the series The Quest for the Best, and we return to chapter four. We’ve been in it for quite a number of weeks, and we come to take a last look at it this morning. And we’re going to take time to read all of the chapter to get our bearings once again.
“Then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun. And look, the tears of the oppressed, but they have no comforter. On the side of their oppressors, there is power, but they have no comforter. Therefore, I praise the dead, who were already dead, more than the living, who are still alive. Yet better than both is he who has never existed, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun. Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work, a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and a grasping for the wind. The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. Better a handful with quietness than both hands full together with toil and a grasping for the wind.
Then I returned and I saw vanity under the sun. There is one alone without companion. He has neither son nor brother, yet there is no end to all his labors. Nor has his eye satisfied with riches, but he never asks for whom do I toil and deprive myself of good? This also is vanity and a grave misfortune. Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him and a threefold cord is not easily broken.
Better a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more for he comes out of prison to be king. Although he was born poor in his kingdom, I saw all the living who walk under the sun. They were with the second youth who stands in his place. There was no and of all the people over whom he was made king, yet those who come afterward will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a grasping for the wind.”
Trust that God will use his word in each of our lives. This morning I hope you have discovered by now that life is a three-legged race. Your success in life is tied to your ability to walk and work with other people. You need to keep in step with the truth that you cannot become all that God has made you to be by yourself or on your own. The fact is this, God has made it so that if you and I are to become our full selves, we cannot do it by ourselves.
According to the Book of Genesis, our true humanity only exists in dynamic society. No man, no woman is an island unto themselves. If we go back to the account of the creation, we realize that God himself is a social being rather than a solitary being. When God sets out to make man and woman we read, let us… Speaking of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, let us make man after our own image. God is not a solitary being. He exists in society. He exists in community and therefore as we bear his image, we cannot bear it as an individual. The image of God must be born by man and women together. That’s what comes out of the Genesis account. Human personhood, like divine personhood is defined in relational terms.
C.S. Lewis, the author of the Narnia books, he found this out in quite an interesting way. He had enjoyed a friendship with two men, one by the name of Roland and another by the name of Charles. And sadly Charles passes away and C.S. Lewis concludes that maybe with Charles’s absence he would get to enjoy an even richer relationship with Roland. But if you read about this in his book, the Four Loves, C.S. Lewis finds out the opposite to be true. He found out that he really didn’t enjoy Roland more with the absence of Charles. In fact, that relationship was diminished. Hamstrung, curtailed by the absence of Charles, C.S. Lewis learned that we enjoy our friends more in the company of more friends. Listen to him as he talks of that very thing. “Far from having more of Roland, having him to myself now that Charles is away. In each of my friends, there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out.”
C.S. Lewis learns that life is a team sport created by God. We are born into relationships and destined to fulfill our greatest potential in and through relationships. That’s why you and I need to be reminded and Ecclesiastes four will remind us this morning that after food and clothing and shelter, the next basic need for any human being is to engage in a good and growing relationship. And we need to be reminded of that.
Ironically, we live in a culture in which many people scrupulously monitor their cholesterol intake, their calorie count, but at the same time are blithely ignorant of the relational life and its importance. According to scientists, and they have done the research, our physical health is affected detrimentally by the absence of relationships as much as obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and a lack of exercise. It figures, doesn’t it? We were made after the image of God who exists in community.
Therefore, you and I cannot be our true selves by ourselves. We will live a diminished life if we live it apart from enriching relationships with others. So I want to say something to you and then get into the text. The best thing you can do for yourself is love someone else. Okay? Forget this, love yourself nonsense. That’s a dead end street. It flies in the face of biblical theology. You want to become a full person? Love someone else because you’ll find your true self in the company of others. Divine personhood is defined in relational terms and human personhood must be defined in relational terms also.
So here we come in to Ecclesiastes chapter four and that’s the very thing that Solomon reinforces. Solomon and Ecclesiastes chapter four has argued and looked again at another frustrating aspect of life and it is this. That this world can prove to be a very cold and lonely place. Ask the victim of oppression, ask the career executive who sits alone in his office late into the night, ask the politician who has just stepped out of the spotlight and into the shadows. Those people are presented to us in Ecclesiastes four and we’ve already looked at that fact.
So given that reality, Solomon slips into a conversation then about the benefits of friendship. This world can be a very cold, dark and lonely place. Therefore, is it any wonder that Solomon would say to us in verse nine, “Two is better than one.” In fact, he’ll go on by the end of verse 12 to say, “Three is better than two.”
So, I want to come back into this passage and look at verses nine through 12. If you’ve been with us in our study of Ecclesiastes and certainly our exposition of chapter four, you’ll have noted with me that there were four causes we recognized in terms of loneliness. Loneliness caused by cruelty, loneliness caused by covetousness, loneliness caused by circumstances, loneliness caused by crowning. There were four causes to loneliness as outlined by Solomon. But I want this morning, to look at two cures for that loneliness. Two cures. One is explicit and one is implicit in terms of the Hebrew text.
The first cure is human friendship. Human friendship. Loneliness is offset through satisfying, sanctifying human relationships and friendships. That’s the message of chapter four and verse nine, following two are better than one. Solomon has described the world burdened by oppression, exhausted by work, a world marked by fleeting popularity, and to fear such a world, to survive such a world, to thrive in the midst of such a world, Solomon argues that you and I need to face that world with its oppression, exhausting work and fleeting popularity. We’re to face it in the company and in the comfort of other people.
When it comes to riches, more is not better. We saw that in verse six. Better a handful with quietness than both hands filled together with toil and grasping for the wind. Solomon made an argument that less is better when it comes to material things. Less is more. So when it came to riches, Solomon argued that more is not better, but when it comes to human relationships, Solomon argues more is better. “Two are better than one and three are better than two.”
And we need to hear that, don’t we? As a culture, as a church, as a community, we need to deepen our relationships. That’s the path to life. And in fact, in verses nine through 12, Solomon presents to us several benefits of budding up in life. Remember when you went to a camp as a kid, you had the buddy system. Well, what’s true of camp is true of life. We need to buddy up because there’s several benefits to that. Let me outline them quickly for you. Begin at verse nine, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor.” That’s benefit number one. Working with others, working in tandem with others makes us more productive. We accomplish more. That’s just the fact. This is what the business world would call the principle of synergy.
There’s the famous illustration that proves this. Synergy being that together we accomplish more than we would apart, and so there’s a great emphasis the day on teamwork within business. And the famous illustration is of two horses. One horse is attached to a sled and in the back of the sled it pulls 10,000 pounds worth of material. A second horse is attached to a sled and it’s able to pull 14,000 pounds worth of material. Then they harness those two horses together. Now, you would conclude that together having pulled 10,000 and 14,000 pounds worth of material that together they would pull at least 24,000.
But when those two horses were attached and harnessed together, they pulled 49,000 pounds worth of material. That’s synergy. That’s synergy. We escalate our potential in life when we’re harnessed to others in enriching relationships. That’s just a fact. Solomon acknowledges that what was true way back then is true today. Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. Okay?
Here’s the second benefit. Working with others proves a help in time of trouble. Verse 10, “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion, but woe to him who is alone when he falls for he has no one to help him up.” The picture here is probably of the traveler. Because the travel in those days was rather dangerous. There was no streets, no streetlights, no flashlights. So when you walked on trails frequently you follow the edge of ravines and people could easily stumble. According to Genesis 14, verse 10, the hazard of ash filled pits are mentioned. Jesus acknowledges in Luke chapter six, in verse 39, “How can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?” There were ravines, there were pits. All sorts of dangers faced the traveler in those days. And so if he fell down an embankment or into a pit, he was in trouble if he was by himself. But if he traveled in a caravan or he was buddied up, he was better off. That’s the point, isn’t it?
The third benefit is that the friends warn each other against the cold world. Verse 11 again, “If two lied together, they will keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?” Now, we might initially think this may be the picture of a husband and wife all cuddled up in bed. Roasty and toasty, may be the kiss. But more than likely, again, we’re back to the picture of the traveler. The desert’s a cold place at night. And so the picture again is of the travelers kind of huddled around a fire, lying body to body, creating a human shield against the biting wind. Metaphorically, it probably speaks of emotional comfort against the cold and indifferent world. You get the picture. This preaches, doesn’t it? It resonates. We understand. Hey, two is better than one. You become more protective. You’re more protected in the company of other people.
In fact, that’s the fourth point again, friends give us cover. They afford us protection. Verse 12, “The one may be overpowered by another. Two can withstand him, and a threefold cord is not easily broken.” What do we say? There’s safety in numbers and so the army patrols in numbers. There’s a danger to traveling alone. Paul in second Corinthians 11, verse 26 mentions the fact that he was often in peril of robbers. By himself, he was easy picking. Maybe in the company of Titus or Silas or some of his other apostolic friends. Well, there was a deterrent in that. There’s safety in numbers.
I grew up in a tough neighborhood outside the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland. And during the height of the troubles, we made sure we never went about by ourselves. You were always in the company of someone else. Maybe a couple of you or two or three of you. Didn’t always protect you. I remember one night we were sat on by a bigger group than our group. One of my friends was headbutted. I was kicked in the mouth with a broken nose as a result. But most of the time you felt a lot safer for walking those streets in the company of your friends. You had each other’s back to some degree. That’s the point, isn’t it, of this very passage? Life is a team sport. Two is better than one, three is better than two.
In fact, this last sentence and statement at the end of verse 12, we believe to be a proverb. And I know that some see this as an allusion to the trinity. Well, I don’t think that’s in the text. I think that’s a reading into the text, not a reading out of the text. We’ve always got to be on our guard against iso Jesus over against acts of Jesus in acts of Jesus. We read out of the Bible. In iso Jesus, we tend to read into the Bible. We see things that are not there.
I remember an old pastor I sat under many years ago saying wonderful things in the Bible we see, most of them put there by you and by me. Let the Bible speak for itself and I think this is just simply a straightforward statement that if two are better than one, then three is better than two. A threefold cord is not easily broken. The more strands and threads that you weave together, the stronger that cord becomes. That’s the point. From God’s perspective, life was never meant to be a solo performance.
We’re all part of the human choir and as noted earlier, me and after the image of a triune God, we must exist in community. We need each other even though we needle each other, but we do need each other. We need others to become our true selves. The need for someone is the need of everyone That’s just in our DNA. It’s part of our human makeup. Loneliness is a devastating, destroying experience for the human being. I mean in this whole discussion on torture interrogation, we know that we use isolation as a weapon against our enemies. Nobody likes to be isolated alone. The resolve breaks down, their strength wanes, their courage melts because God made us to thrive and survive in the company of other people.
And therefore, you and I need to be careful. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid of friends or some self-help guru feeding your ego, telling you that you’re it and you can become it. To blaze your own trail, listen to me, that’s the road to nowhere. It’s a dead end street. It’s a path to self-destruction. None of us are the whole package. We need family. We need church. We need mentors. We need friends. We need husbands. We need wives. We need mums, we need dads. We need pastors.
Two are better than one. In fact, I’ll curtail my comments here, but you can trace this whole principle and pattern through the whole of God’s word. I mean, look at the very institution of marriage itself, a gift from God, something that God acknowledged back in Genesis chapter two. There he sees Adam standing on his tod, all by him… His lonely self, and God says what? “Way to go, Adam, blaze your own trail, son.” No. God says, “Adam, it’s not good that you’re alone.” And so God makes for Adam a counterpart, someone of the same nature in essence, but someone different in terms of makeup and calling. And so from man comes woman and you’ve got Adam and you’ve got Eve, and they become one flesh. The two becomes one, and together they become more than they would be apart. That’s the gift of marriage.
That’s not to say that singleness is second best. It’s just to acknowledge that at least one of the paths to productivity and protection in life is a lifelong covenant commitment with another person of the opposite sex. To indeed as these verses say, “Hold each other up, feed each other, love each other.” We’ll excel in that kind of context. God provides Eve for Adam so that the two together complimenting and completing each other become a better one.
You see this pattern also just in the way Jesus sent out his disciples. You see it also in the commissioning of the 72 in Luke chapter 10 in verse one, “They go out two by two.” Two by two. Jesus knew that together they would accomplish more and last longer. It’s a rare thing in the New Testament to find someone ministering by their self. You see it maybe in Acts chapter eight, with Philip the evangelist. But most of the time you’ll find the apostles in the accompany of others because two are better than one. That’s true of marriage and it’s true of ministry.
In fact, when you think of the great names of the Bible, Moses, David, Daniel, Paul, don’t forget that alongside Moses, you had Joshua. Alongside David, you’d Jonathan. Alongside Daniel, you’d Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Alongside Paul, you’d Silas and Barnabas and Titus. Paul was often emboldened, made more courageous, cheered up by the various visits of his friends. If you actually go to second Timothy, it’s his last letter. There he is somewhat alone. Many have deserted him at his trial. What does he say to look? “Come before winter. I’d like to see you look. You’d be good for me. Look, just come and see me.”
And then finally just reinforcing this whole thought, that life as a team sport. That you can only become your true self in the company of other people. You’ve got the analogy of the body of Christ itself. Paul’s favorite analogy for the church is what? The body. First Corinthians 12, verse 12, when you and I were saved, we were automatically baptized by the spirit into the one body. When we united ourselves to Jesus Christ, we were united to everybody else, united to Jesus Christ. That’s why you have this funny thing that goes on when you meet a Christian for the first time. There’s an affinity that’s unnatural. It’s supernatural.
Travel the world and you’ve got instant friendships and Christians. Because you see we’re part of a body and the church is more effective and efficient when each individual member sees themselves in relationship to one another. Just as a body is made up of many individuals. You and I need to give place to friendships. You and I need to give our best time, thought and energy to the develop of enriching relationships in our life with our spouse, with our children, with our neighbors, within the body of Christ. That’s what life is about. Life is a team sport.
In fact, someone give a beautiful illustration of what I’m talking about. They said, “If a man has no one in his life, then he’s like a house with only one room, narrow and confined. But if that person finds a friend, he has added a room to his house and he’s got twice as much living space.” That’s what friends do. And each time you add a friend, your house gets bigger and bigger and bigger and life seems to have no boundaries. The loner’s life, well, that’s a single bedroom apartment, narrow, dark, and confining.
I hope you’re adding friends. I hope you’re adding relational extensions to your life. In fact, I was interested this week to learn the Latin word, intimas, is the root word of our English word intimate or intimacy, and it means inner room. Intimas in Latin means inner room. It’s a beautiful word that describes that inner sanctum. That inner room within each of our lives where we keep our most precious and vulnerable treasures, our dreams, our fears, our fantasies and our memories and our deepest longings. And there we hide them safely hidden, but at some point in God’s good providence, God will bring someone into our life. And we must allow them to unlock the door to that inner sanctum and join us in our dreams and in our desires.
Then we enter into that intimacy between two human beings. It’s so enriching, so stretching. Makes us more productive, more protected. Let me illustrate this. I remember reading the story of a princess of China’s Ming dynasty. This princess was deeply beloved of her people, adored by the nation, and she was protected by a law that allowed no one to touch her. The law was written for a couple of reasons. One, to keep her elevated and apart from the people so that they understood her great power and prestige. On the other hand, it was written to protect her against the salt or to being treated lightly. And in one particular day this princess was in a boat on the river and the banks of the river were lined with people just there to adore their princess. In response, she got up to acknowledge their expressions of love. And as she did, she lost her footing and fell over into the river. She couldn’t swim. And sadly no one was about to touch her because touching her would cost you your life. And in this story, the princess dies.
I wonder how many of us are drowning being bedeviled by that sense of being overwhelmed. Emotionally, we’re all upside down because no one has entered that intimas, that inner sanctum of our hearts. We’ve built walls because we’ve been hurt. I don’t know for what reasons, but we’re kind of protective of ourselves and we forget that we’re diminishing ourselves and we’re cutting ourselves off from the oxygen pipe of friendship and enriching relationships.
There’s a second way to offset loneliness. Before I get to it, but let me give you some homework. If what I’ve said is true and I believe it is true, and then I think you need to fight the rugged individualism of American culture. The buzzwords of our culture is what? Independence and personal responsibility and private property, and there’s a place for that, believe me. All of those things have their proper place. But over pled, we become a society of individuals and we lose something of our humanity as a nation. Because true humanity exists in dynamic society and the best form of that should be the church, but you and I should find that in our neighborhoods and in our cities and in our towns.
We’ve got to fight this idea that the American hero is some kind of Rambo that doesn’t need anybody. God made us with a need for each other. Next to food and shelter, you and I need friendships and relationships, therefore make people a priority. We get caught up in the stuff of life and the most precious treasures of life are our wives, our husbands, our children, our friends, our church body. Are they a priority on a given week? As you look at your week, how often do you pursue that priority? Carpool with somebody, get off the road and get into the diamond lane or something. I don’t know. So that I can get to where I need to go a lot quicker.
But buddy up, join a small group, make people a priority because that’s what counts in life. Treasure those who are ready, special friends and let them know you count them as a treasure. Connect with the body of Christ and maybe to turn it upside down, serve the lonely and the fallen. There are people within the purview of our lives that need our touch this week, that need us to pray with them, that need us to deliver a meal, that need us to give them a phone call, to drop them a little note. To tell them, you know what? They’re not forgotten. They’re not insignificant. They’re treasured, they’re affirmed, they’re loved. They’re part of the family of God. They’re part of this great humanity that’s patterned after the image of God himself.
Last thought, and it’s implicit in the text, more than explicit. If you and I are going to deal with the loneliness, there are four causes that are found here in chapter four. I think there are two cures, one human friendship, but two divine companionship. Loneliness is not only offset by human friendship, but by divine companionship. We were made after the image of God. We were made for one another and we were made to enjoy our relationship with God and our hearts are restless and empty until that is the case.
And the amazing thing is, you and I can have a relationship with God. That’s the great, good news that comes out of the Bible. James chapter two in verse 23 says this of Abraham, “He was a friend of God.” I don’t know who you name as your friends, and if I was to talk to you, you’d rattle off some names. And maybe there might be some people in high places or some people of public prominence, but you know what? Imagine to be able to say to your friends, but my greatest friend, my best friend is God himself. That’s possible. That’s something for us to enjoy.
And while I talked about avoiding the allegorical interpretation of verse 12 in that the threefold cord is not the trinity. I don’t think Solomon had that in mind, but it is true to say that the idea here is the more the merrier, okay? The more friends we add to our life within reason, enriches our lives and is a good thing and it’s good to have Joe as your friend and it’s good to have Gian as your friend. But how much better to have Jehovah as your friend? That’s an amazing reality that the Lord of host is also the God of Jacob. That the one who is adored and obeyed by the armies of heaven, the one who has transcendent and above and beyond, is also the one who condescends to walk and talk with the Jacobs of this world. Do you know God? Does He know you?
Do you live in the good of the promise of Hebrews 13 verse five? That he has said, “He will never leave me or forsake me.” It’s a good thing to live on. What a verse to live on. When you get up in the morning and you pull the curtains and you start the car and you head off into a world that can be a lonely, dark place, to remind yourself wherever you go, whatever you face, He will never leave me, nor forsake me. I’ve got a Father in heaven. I’ve got a brother in Jesus Christ. I’ve got a friend in the Holy Spirit and I have a family so big that you’ll find in every corner of this universe. It’s called a family of God.
John Wesley died with these words on his lips. “Best of all, God is with us.” That is best of all. To be able to know God and name God as your friend. That’s a marvelous thing that God can be that third strand in your life. And according to the New Testament, it is possible because through Jesus Christ, God removed the very thing that keeps Him from being our friend and from us being His friend, and that thing is sin. You and I have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. In fact, in this chapter, we see the sin of oppression. We see the sin of selfishness. We see the sin of pride that becomes the cause of fractured relationships between men and women.
Sin separates man from man. In fact, sin separates man from himself. One of the most interesting verses in the New Testament is Luke chapter 15, verse 17, where the prodigal son, after he realizes he’s made some bad choices and he’s about to make his way home to see if the father will receive him. You know what the Bible says in that verse? “And he came to himself.” He came to himself. The prodigal because of his disobedience, because of his selfishness, because of his pride, and his lawlessness had become a stranger to himself, but he came to himself and then he come back to the Father.
That’s what sin does. Sin separates us from each other and it separates us from ourselves. And most sad of all, it separates us from the one who give us life. Isaiah 59 verse two says, “That our iniquities have separated us from God.” God’s willing to have a relationship with us, but there’s something that has disrupted the possibility of that relationship. It’s our sin, it’s our lawlessness, it’s our pride. It’s our self-centeredness. But Jesus Christ came. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself through what Jesus Christ did on the cross in bearing our sin and enduring and experiencing the estrangement from God that is the experience of those who don’t know God. You and I can come back into our relationship with God and call him our Father.
If you were with us on Good Friday, we looked at this whole thought, didn’t we? We looked at that sixth cry on the cross, staggering cry, “Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” There came that moment, three Rs actually on that Friday afternoon when darkness descended. And up until this point, Jesus had suffered at the hands of man. Now he’s about to suffer at the hands of God and the penalty of our sin is laid on him and the due desserts of our sin he bears in his body on the tree. And he feels that estrangement. He experiences that separation from God. You’ve got this cry of the orphan, this cry of dereliction as Christ descends into the darkness of hell itself.
Martin Luther looks at that text, the Protestant reformer, he’s got a pen and hunt. He’s got paper before him and after a couple of hours he puts the pen down. He’s written nothing. He’s confounded by this thought, “God, forsaken by God? How can it be?” But that’s what happened at the cross. God himself in Christ experienced an absence of God. I don’t know how to explain that, but that’s what happened when Jesus Christ became sin for us.
If you go back to Leviticus chapter 16 in verse 22, you read of the scapegoat on the day of atonement where the high priest of Israel comes out and lays his hand on the scapegoat as a symbol of laying all the condemn nation and sin of the people of God on the head of that goat. And in it, it is said, “It is pushed out into an inhabited land.” An uninhabited land. My friend, Jesus Christ became that sacred scapegoat on the cross. And for a time that Friday afternoon, he entered an uninhabited land. He had always known fellowship with the Father. He’d always enjoyed intimacy with God. In fact, he came from the bosom of the Father, says the Apostle John, and we beheld his glory. But as that week unfolded, that passion week, Jesus Christ descended into loneliness. It began with Judas’ kiss.
It continued with the 11 leaving him in Gethsemane. Peter and John turn back and follow him into Caiaphas’ house. But before the night’s done, Peter will deny he even knows the Lord Jesus. John will be the only one who will ultimately follow Christ to the cross. And then Christ sends him home with Mary. He increasingly experienced loneliness. But you know what? He was comforted by? John 16:32, “Yet I am not alone because my father is with me.” But between 12 o’clock and three o’clock that Friday afternoon, he was alone. He had no sense of the Father’s company and the Father’s presence. There was a disruption within the Godhead that we can’t fathom or explain, but the purpose of it all was that our sin would be removed so that God could reestablish our relationship with us. Remain holy, yet expresses love towards those who haven’t loved Him back.
The little girl got it right even when she got it wrong, didn’t she? When speaking at a Sunday school, recital said of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only forgotten son.” Jesus Christ became God’s forgotten son so that you and I could enter into a relationship with God.
As the team come up… Remember that iconic movie at Christmas, Home Alone? Still is something we watch. It centers around a family’s planned European vacation for Christmas and it’s a big event. And young Kevin is all out of sorts and he bothers his mom and dad. He offends his sisters. And so at the last minute, he’s put up to his room and there he sits in a tantrum wishing that everyone else would just go away. And in a bizarre plot twist, the family overlooks Kevin in the attic and leaves for the airport and gets on the plane. All the while believing that he’s with them.
The mother learns this to her horror in flight to Paris. Kevin wakes up from asleep to realize his family’s gone and his dreams have been realized. And so for the next few days, he lives alone and he enjoys every minute of it. He’s delirious with joy. It begins with him jumping up and down in the bed to music thinking that he can go to bed when he wants, wake up when he wants, eat what he wants. And it’s all good until it’s all interrupted by the menace of the burglars that try to break into the home. And Kevin sets about defending his home like a warrior on the walls of a castle. But when it’s all said and done, he wishes his family was home. He’s sorry for how he’s treated them and desperately wants them back. I think that movie has a parable as it relates to how people relate to God.
Often we resent God’s authority and we want our freedom and we exercise our freedom. And for a while it seems like a lot of fun until we end up in a life of fear and loneliness. And then we realize that without God we’re home alone, in this big universe. That’s not the way it’s meant to be. That’s not the way it should be because we were created after the image of a God who exists in society. Life is a relational business and you and I need to have a relationship with God and through God have an enriching relationship with each other. And that’s all founded and found in Jesus Christ.
Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for the reminder this morning that life is not a solo flight. It’s not a solo performance. Lord, help us to repent of our independent spirit. Lord, help us to come back from our ego trips, humbled and reminded that indeed, that in we need one another, that we will survive and thrive only in the company of others. Two are better than one, three are better than two.
Lord, help us indeed to fight that independent spirit that’s more of Adam than it is of Christ. Help us to make people a priority. Help us to count our friends special. Help us to make the church an important part of our life. Help us to reach out to the lonely and the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised. And above all Lord, help us to marvel at the fact that you will never leave us or forsake us because of your only forgotten son. Lord, help us to pursue you and pursue each other through you. Enrich our marriages, enrich our families, enrich our church, and make us salt and light to enrich our community for Jesus’ sake. Amen.