We were not created to live alone.
This truth should have been one I knew well before the pandemic, but “post” pandemic, I know this need for one another acutely. Going without gatherings, coffee dates, and in-person church created an appreciation for being with one another.
The Temptation to Do It on Our Own
Even knowing the importance of connecting with one another, I still struggle to reach out to another person when I need help. A few years ago on Valentine’s Day, my daughter showed me how absurd I look when I want to do it all on my own.
One Valentine’s Day, my daughter had prepared double the needed valentines so she could give two to everyone in her class. She converted a shipping box into something that looked more like a disco ball. She was ready to be a Valentine’s hero.
On this hectic morning, she got herself ready while I was helping her younger brother. I peeked out our kitchen window to see her standing next to our pickup truck with twenty-four valentines stacked on top of her homemade disco ball. We live in western Minnesota, so the weather was less than delightful with blizzard-like winds, low temps, and a snow-covered driveway.
I didn’t have time to holler out the window or get out the door before everything was blowing around in the wind. By the time I got out to the truck, she was on the verge of tears, convinced that her day was ruined and that she had ruined it for everyone else.
I told her I would run in and grab a bag for her to keep all the treasures in. I told her I would help her.
I gathered the rest of the kids, and we made our way to school. I got the boys in the building so I could help her calm down. She was beside herself. She refused the bag and my help. After a few loops around the building, she confessed that she didn’t want to use a bag because people would think she was weak.
Created to Be in a Community
I didn’t understand her logic until I thought about my own life. I want to prove everything to everyone. I want to show how strong I am. My desire to be independent and show my strength keeps me from asking the people around me, who God created, for help. I end up looking like my daughter chasing valentines around the county in the blizzard of my circumstances.
The truth is no matter how strong we are, we were created to live with one another. We were created to help and serve one another. We were created to be in a community.
The Small Catechism Reminds Us of Our Need for One Another
I should know that I need other people and that God uses me to help others. I should know my life is not about showing how strong and independent I am. I’ve been a Lutheran for thirty-six years. Thankfully, one of our foundational writings, Luther’s Small Catechism, reminds us that we were created for one another. God uses us to help others. He uses others to help us.
The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, which were given to us to guide our lives, each have something to say about our relationships. The first three Commandments tell us about our relationship to God. The last seven tell us how to love our neighbor.
In Luther’s explanation of the First Article of the Creed, he writes:
He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land and animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.
How does God provide all of those things for us? Do they fall from the sky? They certainly do not. He uses the people around us, the people He created, to provide us with flour to bake our bread, parents to feed us when we are young, a roofer to keep our heads dry, and the list goes on and on. He also uses us to provide for others, and “all this He does without any merit or worthiness in me.”
The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer was given to us by our Lord, and we find it in the Six Chief Parts of the catechism. In the fifth petition, we say:
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
God has placed us in and among people. While that is a beautiful thing, we are still sinners and continue to hurt and harm one another. Because of the great love and forgiveness Christ has given to us, we can go to one another and ask for forgiveness. We also declare to another, “You are forgiven.”
Many of us were brought to the waters of Baptism by our parents. If it was not by our parents, someone told us who Christ was and the Holy Spirit worked in us to move us to be baptized. Regardless of how old you were when you were baptized, God used someone to bring you to the waters.
We stand in church on Sunday mornings and declare that we are sinners. No one is exempt from that. We stand together and let God and those around us know that we are sinners in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Then from the lips of the pastor, we hear, “Your sins are forgiven.” We do not confess to a wall, nor do we absolve ourselves. We confess to one another and hear, “You are forgiven,” from another.
The Sacrament of the Altar
We do not receive the elements of the Sacrament from our own hands. They are given to us by another. Christ gave us His body and blood when He gave us the Sacrament of the Altar. When we come to the altar on Sunday morning, we hear the words from the lips of another and receive the elements from the hands of another.
Read about the Sacrament of the Altar in Luther’s Small Catechism »
From Christ through Another
We were not created to live alone. We were created for one another.
All of the gifts are given to us by another.
We do not baptize ourselves.
We do not commune ourselves.
We do not absolve ourselves.
Another pours water over our head.
Another hands us the elements.
Another proclaims the words of forgiveness.
All of this from Christ through another.
And each part of the Six Chief Parts of the catechism illuminates the importance of “one another.”
We were not created to live on a desert island. We were created to live in families, be surrounded by a church family, and be a part of the community we find ourselves in.
No matter how strong we are, we need one another. No matter how weak we are, another needs us.
Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House
To learn more about having a community of believers and how we are not meant to live in isolation but rather with other Christians, read Connected to Christ: Overcoming Isolation through Community.