Alone and Together

Jeff Munroe

Read: John 13:31-35

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (v. 35)

In his classic book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes: “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone” (p. 78). Bonhoeffer is saying there is a rhythm and balance as we move from being alone to being in relationships.

Bonhoeffer points out that we are called by God in a solitary manner, and we will die and stand before God alone. But he also says that although called alone, it is into a community that we are called, and that even on the last day we will be only one single member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. It is in and through community that being alone finds meaning.

This is consistent with the witness of Scripture. On the last night Jesus was with his disciples, he gave his final address to them. The crowning point is found in John 13:35, the statement that people will know Jesus’ disciples by the love they have for each other. Scripture points to a God who intends for us to live in a meaningful relationship with him and in meaningful relationships with each other.

As an introvert, I tend to gravitate toward being alone. But I know it isn’t healthy to stay there, and so I have to take initiative at times to be with others, to experience the fullness of relationships God wants for me. How about you? —Jeff Munroe

Prayer: Lord, help us balance being alone and being together.