by: Michael Payne
“We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness.” Albert Schweitzer
I was born to be surrounded by people, it’s just who I am. I am energized in the context of community, and I jump at any opportunity for actual face time with friends and leaders. I know there are many different personality types among us, but regardless of our social preferences, we were all created to engage in relationship. In saying that, I know what it feels like to be surrounded by people yet feel like you’re on your own. Through such experiences I have discovered the importance of perspective; how you think truly determines how you see.
There are people all around us, some of them thriving and full of joy, while others seem to be drowning in discontentment and depression. We are surrounded by people, yet we ourselves often feel as if we’re alone. It is easy to believe that our hardships are unique, that we are the only ones who have been rejected, the only ones who didn’t do it right the first time.
“As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Proverbs 23:7
Often the hardest voice to silence when it comes to our value is our own.
True identity, joy and fullness of life are all realized in the context of relationship. We were not created for isolation, yet that is what we’ve been opting for since day one. We have made isolation our first response to mistakes or hardship, yet that is the opposite of what God intended for us. Face-to-face relationship is what He wanted in the garden, and it’s what Jesus died for: a face-to-face relationship with God.
Despite our best efforts, God gives us every opportunity to engage with Him rather than limp through life on our own, and the ultimate expression of this desire for intimacy was revealed in His Son, Jesus. When Jesus died for us, He tore the temple veil. What had once separated people from the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament was destroyed so that we could draw near.
“But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 2 Corinthians 3:16
He makes that very transaction personal for us when we accept Him, removing the veil and allowing us to adopt a new perspective. He did this so that we could be seated with Him in heavenly places, so we could enjoy intimacy with Him, and so we could receive His power. No more separation, He is with us!
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
Relationship with God is not exclusive; it is strictly inclusive. One of the primary ways that He expresses His love for us is through people. And our interactions with Him are meant to directly impact our interactions with others. Putting up a veil is exhausting, yet fear compels us to keep doing so in order to protect ourselves. The reality is that people aren’t tired just because they’re busy, they are tired because they’re busy keeping up their religious facades and maintaining a misrepresentative image of who they are. It is a self defense mechanism that results in self defeat.
"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
When people see the real you, they see the real Jesus. Who are we to misrepresent God? Knowing that He has ushered us in to community with Him and one another, how can we continue to replace the very veil He has already done away with? As the Church, we have been commissioned to represent the gospel in truth, to be ambassadors of freedom, and living proof of the hope we profess. We need to be ready when He wants to use us. This doesn’t mean having all our ducks in a row; it simply requires a willingness to come out of hiding and engage.
Michael (@danger_mp) currently lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He was born a thoughtful creative and a natural communicator with an innate desire to see people embrace lives of freedom and fullness, anchored in Jesus. His passion for influencing his social and spiritual environments has led Michael to become a partner in a creative agency called Fancy and a forerunner in a local movement called Saskatoon Worship Community (@saskcommunity). Michael is also the Music Director at C3 (Christian City Church) Saskatoon, where he is thrilled to serve under pastors Brock and Angelica Fehr.