Over 8 decades of research by Harvard University reveals a direct corollary between strong relationships and longevity of life.
One study of 7,000 people concluded that those most isolated were 3 times more likely to die than those with meaningful relationships.
Regarding the study, author John Ortberg wrote that “people who had bad health habits (such as smoking, poor eating habits, or alcohol use) but strong social ties lived significantly longer than people who had great health habits but were isolated.
In other words, Ortberg quipped, “It is better to eat Twinkies with good friends than to eat broccoli alone.”
This is not only true physically and emotionally, it is also true spiritually. Our spiritual health is dependent upon our togetherness with other Christians. Luke, the author of Acts, describes the Jerusalem church this way.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Ax. 2:42-47)
The Lord’s church is not an institution or an organization, but a community of Believers. We are called to share fellowship together. To do more than just believe, but to belong. To one another.
I like the expression “church family.” It’s an easy-to-understand metaphor. And it’s scriptural. The Bible calls the church the house the God. The family of God. And those who dwell in its household as brothers and sisters.
Being together is more than just showing up at worship services, or attending a mid-week Bible study. It is sharing life together. Fellowshipping. Participating. Sharing. Experiencing community.
Togetherness describes these first Christians. Not just in terms of unity, but in their mutual involvement.
- They worshiped together.
- They prayed together.
- They ate together.
- They shared their possessions together.
- They engaged in benevolence together.
- They grew together in discipleship.
As one contemporary writer expressed it, “We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family.”
The inspired New Testament writers use the word “together” over 60 times, usually to describe our relationship within the Family of God. We are…
And one day we will all be caught together and live together throughout all eternity.
Yet, with all of that said, sometimes togetherness is tough. We come together as one Body in Christ, yet we call come from different backgrounds, experiences, social-economic positions, educational levels, racial and ethnic distinctions, as well as political persuasions and personal opinions. To maintain the togetherness that God expects requires extra effort, due diligence, and a deep commitment to the purpose for which we’re called. And, of course, love for God and each other.
Surely, if the experiences of the past two years have taught us anything, we’ve been reminded how much we need one another. Worship is more powerful together. Ministry is meant to be shared. Communication is more meaningful in person rather than facebook live. And no amount of sophisticated technology can replace the personal interaction of handshakes, hugs, smiles, and tears.
Together. We’re better together. You need your church family. And they need you. It’s God’s plan.
Let’s renew in ‘22 our togetherness.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman