Misconception: I have God, and that is enough.
In Genesis 2:18 we find a profound statement with implications that are often overlooked. We read, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone…’” The word translated good has a host of meanings, but one is “beneficial”. Looking at his perfect creation, God acknowledged that it was not beneficial for people to be alone. He saw man as incomplete without others. In other words, God acknowledged that he was not enough. Really?
Let’s consider the implications of this verse and the teachings of the Bible regarding the essential nature of human relationships.
- Man needs companionship that goes beyond the Creator-creation relationship
Perhaps one of the saddest misconceptions held by evangelicals is “I have God; therefore, I need no one else.” Adam had God in a perfect environment, one in which he could communicate with God face-to-face. Yet, God said that Adam was “alone” and that his being alone was not beneficial.
In their fantastic book, How People Grow, psychologists, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend explain the essential part human relationships play in our spiritual growth and in our emotional and psychological healing. Dr. Cloud writes,
Often people in the church who are teaching others how to grow eliminate the role of the Body. In fact, sometimes these people teach that their students don’t need people at all, that Christ alone is sufficient or that his Word or prayer is enough. They actively and directly lead others not to depend on people at all…
Virtually every emotional and psychological problem, from addictions to depression, has alienation or emotional isolation at its core or close to it. Recovery from these problems always involves helping people to get more connected to each other at deeper and healthier levels than they are.
Ironically, one problem we often see in the Christian community is that people get more into religion and less into the connectedness the Bible prescribes, with the result that they get sicker. For the same reason, many people feel disconnected from God because they have not connected to his Body…The clear teaching of the New Testament is that the Body of Christ is to be people deeply connected to each other, supporting each other and filling each other’s hearts.[i]
- God values human relationships
Consider the price Christ paid to have a relationship with you. He took on human flesh, made himself a servant, and became sin for us that we might have the righteousness of God (Philippians 2:5-11, 2 Corinthians 5:21). In fact, we find in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 that our salvation is about our being reconciled to God. Paul even refers to his ministry as ‘the ministry of reconciliation’ (v.18).” If God valued his relationship with humanity so greatly that he gave his only son as the necessary sacrifice to bridge the gap between himself and his creation, how much value ought we to put on relationship with others?
- God was not alone
Dr. Henry Cloud wrote, “Why is our need to bond so strong, and why is our failure to bond so disastrous for our well-being? God is a relational being, and he created a relational universe. At the foundation of every living thing is the idea of relationship. Everything that is alive relates to something else.”[ii]
Who was God talking to in Genesis 2:18? The other members of the trinity. (See Genesis 1:26 for another example of the trinity in conversation.) Our model for perfect relationships is found in the model set by God himself among the trinity.
- Jesus taught that obedience to him can be perfectly accomplished in the context of relationships.
In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus says that the entire law revolves around one word, love. We find in John 1:34-35 that love for each other is the evidence to the world that we are Christ’s followers. Galatians 6:2 teaches us that bearing one another’s burdens is how we fulfill the law of Christ.
The very essence of love is relationship. Love cannot exist apart from a giver and receiver. The Bible very strongly emphasizes the importance of relationships. We cannot love others, carry their burdens, comfort, support, encourage, or challenge one another in isolation.
Do we need others? Absolutely! Is it scary to take that step and reach out to others? Yep. However, you will most likely find the healing you desire can be found when you take that risky step into the light of human relationships. God bless you in your journey of growth.
[i] Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, How People Grow (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 121-123.
[ii] Dr. Henry Cloud, Changes that Heal (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018), 58-59.