Love Like Jesus–Isolation vs. Engagement: John 1:37-39

Isolation Engagement Love Like Jesus

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

John 1:37-39

How Jesus Loved People:

In this passage we see Jesus loving people by engaging with them. The two following don’t say a word, so Jesus turns around and initiates conversation, “What do you want?” He asks.

“Where are you staying?” They ask back.

Then, rather than answering directly, Jesus answers in a way that will draw them in, “Come, and you will see.”

These two, the first two disciples of Jesus, follow Him and spend the day with Him. Later we’ll see all twelve of Christ’s disciples traveling with Him and living with Him on the road.


Love Like Jesus

Love requires engagement. I suppose, at the opposite end of the spectrum from engagement we find isolation. Isolation is unhealthy on several different levels that we won’t go into here but one thing I know with absolute certainty: isolation kills relationships. I know this with complete certainty because I have a tendency to isolate myself. One of the great pleasures I enjoy in life is that of immersing myself in the creative process. I believe it’s a good thing to do because I believe God designed me this way. However, when I’m immersed too deep for too long, it’s very hard on relationships. It’s just impossible to communicate love to people when you’re isolated. It’s that simple. (for more on isolation see previous post: It is not good for the man to be alone)

I know of a county sheriff in the Southeastern part of the U.S. who provides an interesting illustration of the importance of engagement and the problem of isolation. He’s a first class person, this sheriff. He’s conscientious, hard working, of great integrity, smart, and he treats people very well. A few years ago, as the end of his term approached and election time neared, not surprisingly, everyone who worked in headquarters supported him. They were raving fans. They told everyone they knew to vote for the guy. But unfortunately, as good as he was, he had the habit of working at headquarters, focused on problem solving. This was done at the expense of spending time with his deputies out in the field. The result was his deputies didn’t just not support him, but many hated him. As enthusiastic as the headquarters people who saw him every day were for his reelection, his deputies who he rarely spent time with were equally enthusiastic for him to lose. They wanted him out.

Love requires engagement.

Of course Jesus was a master at this. He engaged to the point that He lived with His disciples for three years. His engagement with His followers was (and is) amazing. He delivered Holy Spirit inspired teachings, He touched people, He healed people, He loved people.

In my own life there were times when I did well in this area of engagement and times when I did not. The difference in my relationships was dramatic. The trap, for some of us, is to feel as though engaging with others is not a productive use of time. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Love requires engagement.

And without love we’re nothing.

Engage people.

“…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

1 Corinthians 13:2

[Image via jared moran – Creative Commons]

Genesis 2:18 — It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Genesis 2:18

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Here we are in only the second chapter of the Bible and already God is declaring that it is not good to be isolated. God in His wisdom of course knows that isolation is associated with all kinds of problems. In fact, according to the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, isolation as a predictor of mortality is comparable with cigarette smoking — your risk of dying increases by 2 – 3 times if you’re isolated vs. if you’re socially connected. Besides mortality — depression, illness, and a host of other problems accompany isolation.

Your spiritual life is also very connected to the dynamic of isolation vs. social connection. Just watch the lives of those who attempt to walk their Christian walk apart from attending church vs. those who do attend. Pick someone you know who says that their way of connecting with God is through the enjoyment of nature, or by hanging out with Christian friends, or by self study. Of course there’s nothing wrong with any of those things, but, at the same time pick another who you know attends church, say, 2 or more times a week. You’ll find the difference in the depth of relationship with God between these two to be striking. By and large, you’ll find the church goer to be happier as well. According to author and speaker Dr. Kevin Gilmartin, those who attend church regularly are 40% more likely to be happy than those who don’t. (See previous posts: Congregate and Rest)

“I will make a helper suitable for him.” God’s desire for Adam was to make a helper for him because Adam alone can’t live the blessed life that God has in mind for him without Eve. Furthermore man can’t execute his part of God’s plan for mankind here on earth without women. God gave Adam His plan and agenda, but both Adam and his wife Eve are to work together, as a team, to live out God’s plan and to advance God’s agenda. Adam, the husband, has been put in a position of leadership and Eve, the wife, has been put in a position of service. Not that Adam wouldn’t serve Eve because any great leader will serve those he leads. (Traveler and the Chaplain, p. 56), But Eve has been formally appointed, by God, to be Adam’s helper. In the world’s view this certainly has a negative connotation, but in Gods view, in Christ’s view, the helper is esteemed highly for Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said,

“If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Mark 9:33-35



References:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

David Guzik

J. Vernon McGee

Jon Courson

Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine

Kurt Bennett, Traveler and the Chaplain, p. 56, Enoch Publishing 2009

Congregate!

The latest results of a study from the University of Michigan revealed that college students have a 40% lower capacity to empathize with the feelings of others, as compared to college students 20 and 30 years ago. 14,000 college students participated in the study from 1979 to 2009. (Read more at US News & World Report)

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;he breaks out against all sound judgment.

Proverbs 18:1 (ESV)

Isolation destroys us. Isolation is associated with depression, suicide, poor mental health, and addiction. Isolation from the body of Christ destroys us spiritually. Could it be that the corresponding decline in church attendance in the U.S. is the cause of the reduced capacity to empathize with others?

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to die for us. (John 3:16) When that reality becomes a part of me, a part of you, a part of us, we rejoice at the opportunity to go to church. To fellowship with God over at His house becomes something we love to do. And spending time with Him, we become more like Him.

And He empathizes. He loves people.

He loves you.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

Go to church.