We live in an age of individualism and at times, isolation. American culture has promoted the importance of individual freedom and liberty, sometimes, at the expense of what might be good for the greater society as a whole. We also find it admirable for people to pull themselves up from whatever depths they may be in by their own strength and self-reliance. Certainly we all have to take individual responsibility for the choices that we make, but our modern form of individualism probably takes things too far.
The poet John Donne wrote that “No man is an island.” His point was that we have a shared existence; we are all a part of a shared humanity. The idea of a self-made man is a myth. No one has ever achieved anything without the support and assistance of numerous others. We were made for others and life is best lived in the context of a loving and supportive community.The story of Ruth is a good example on the importance of a communally based society. Ruth was unwilling to allow her mother-in-law to suffer in isolation, so she accompanied her back to her native land. Thankfully, the Mosaic Law had provisions in place for people such as Naomi (poor) and Ruth (both an alien and poor) to be able to share in the bounty of others. “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God.” (Lev 19:9-10). Through the generosity of Boaz, Ruth and Naomi not only survived, but thrived. This led to the marriage of Boaz and Ruth, the great-grandparents of King David.
The apostle Paul also wrote about the importance of community in 1 Cor 12:25-26, “…the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” Who has made an impact on your life? Who needs you to make an impact on theirs? How might the body of Christ become a tighter knit community? And how might the Christian community make a bigger impact on society as a whole, especially as more and more individuals tend to live their lives in isolation? - Shay