Legendary college football coach Woody Hayes was often quoted as saying, “When you pass the football, three things can happen, and two of them are bad.” It could be caught by the intended receiver, but it could also fall incomplete or, worse, be intercepted by the opposing team. He loved running the football, knowing that once the football was disconnected from the hands of one of his players, anything could happen, and he disliked the odds.
Consider, then, the risks of disconnecting oneself from the community of believers in the one true God. Several things can happen as a result and all of them lead to undesirable situations and consequences:
- Disconnected, we’re on our own.
- Disconnected, we’re out of touch.
- Disconnected, we’re an easy target.
- Disconnected, we’re easily disordered.
On our own
The image of the Marlboro Man, a lone cowboy on a horse in the middle of nowhere, sent a message of self-sufficiency so attractive to so many that the marketing campaign lasted for years and sold a lot of cigarettes. We flirt with the notion that we need no one, that we are self-made men and women. Leave me alone, we may think, and I’ll take care of myself.
Nothing could be further from God’s truth. We know that we can do nothing without God. We can act against His will, certainly, but God and only God is sovereign and has the last word when it comes to what happens in the world. Fortunately, He loves us and wants us to be in union with Him. He rejoices when we seek Him and pursues us relentlessly when we stray from the fold.
Out of touch
When we focus on life outside of the community of believers, we’re apt to lose out on the real-life stories of God’s saving grace, love and mercy. If we turn our attention to media and the world’s information outlets, the content can scare us, painting a picture of a cruel, dangerous and hopelessly evil world. To illustrate, pick up a local newspaper and look for the silver and golden wedding anniversary notices. You certainly won’t find them on the front page, if at all. The world simply doesn’t deem longstanding love, commitment and devotion between husband and wife newsworthy.
Contrast this with a small group study, meeting weekly and praying for those in need of physical healing, for recovery for the victims of a natural disaster, for each other and for their families to live under God’s protection and provision. In that setting, a single verse from God’s Word can still change perspective, attitude and even a life.
An easy target
When we disconnect from close friends and the community of faith to pursue our personal goals and dreams, we put ourselves directly in harm’s way. That’s because as individuals we’re sitting ducks for the enemy’s attacks. This is where Satan does some of his best work. Disconnected, we’re out of touch with those who love us and can help us grow in the Spirit and we’re simultaneously in the crosshairs of the “thief (who) comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10)
This is not to say that time alone is all bad. Our quiet time spent in communion with God is most precious and can keep us on the right track in this life. In fact, for many people it’s the single most enriching part of their spiritual life. Isolation without God close by in our thoughts, prayers and actions, however, is simply a dangerous way to live. It also prevents us from obeying the two great commandments- to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
If you agree with the disciplined thinking that everything counts, either helping us move closer to God or further away, you begin to look at how you use God’s gifts of time, talent and treasure in a way different from much of the world. If you can’t wait to get home from work and binge watch your favorite drama or comedy until the wee hours of the morning, you might be forsaking a good night’s sleep, time in prayer and activities invested in staying strong and healthy physically and mentally. The key question: Is what I’m doing right now moving me into a closer relationship with God or further away? By allowing for middle ground and considering that such activities simply don’t count, we can rationalize our very lives away.
By contrast, when we put God first in our earthly existence, we can more easily find His wisdom, acting prudently and consistently with His will, and, as Henry Blackaby says, join Him in His work. The Kingdom work we do alongside others in the community of faith pulls us closer to God. That’s when we are most likely to order our time, talent and treasures properly, in divine priority.
To get more information and join the South Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce (SC-C3) movement, go to www.sc-c3.org and become a member today!
John Carroll is a strategist and growth consultant based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. He is a board member of LifeWorks Charleston and the founding board chair of Camp Rise Above. You can find him online at www.JohnCarroll.com, via e-mail at John@JohnCarroll.com and by voice and text at 843-224-8815.