My wife, Heather, and I were just reflecting on all the changes we’ve seen in the congregations I’ve served for the past 28 years. One thing that struck us both is the number of people who have simply “dropped out” along the way. These are members of the faith family that haven’t moved away, joined another worshiping body or died. They’ve just fallen off the radar. Why? It’s a puzzle. Many were very active members of the family. Most never showed any sign of discontent. Efforts were made to connect with them when they first started to drift away. Many more efforts were made to draw them back. But, for whatever reason, they just disappeared from the fellowship.
I quickly commented to Heather, “How can you just walk away from your family like that?” But, I had to quickly agree with Heather that the same problem DOES impact biological families on a regular basis. In fact, it’s a growing epidemic in the U.S. Family associations are quickly abandoned. Children forget about their parents. Parents disappear and leave behind orphans. Spouses slowly distance themselves from each other or just pack up and move out in a day. Yes, family ties ARE vulnerable…biologically AND spiritually.
The Devil knows how to get at us. He knows that when we’re separated from others we’re MUCH more vulnerable to His influence. He can easily fill us with thoughts of anger, jealousy, depression, insignificance, hatred, grief, despair and more when we’re trying to resist such thoughts alone.
Jesus has an answer to these lies; fellowship with Him and with others who love Him. He calls us to unite with Him and receive His free forgiveness and ongoing strength against Satan. As Jesus says to us in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” In Him, we have a joy that enables us to stand strong against all the negative thoughts that can drive us into hopeless isolation. As Nehemiah told the people of Israel as they were faced with their sin, so the Spirit still speaks to us, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Don’t let the Devil pull you away…from your biological family or your faith family. Stay connected to Jesus and others in the Truth that sets you free from isolation. It’s in fellowship with Jesus that eternal joy endures. It’s in fellowship with others that hold this same hope that we stand strong against the Devil. TOGETHER, we will have a joy that will never end.