How do you socially connect with those around you? Beginning with the Trinity, and thereafter with Adam, then Eve, and on down through time, God designed and modeled social connections. From invading Adam’s personal space when He breathed life into his nostrils to sharing friendship in the first garden with Adam and Eve, God showed Himself to be social and still does in your life, too.
While there are times when a silent retreat is needed and good, as in Jesus example of getting away to pray alone or with a few followers, most of His adult life was spent in connecting and engaging with individuals and crowds. He had a mission both with the lost and with His followers. Social pretense was and is a waste of time with Him since He can see right into heart motives.
As Brandon Cox said in his book, “Rewired”, ‘boundaries, in their proper place can be a good thing…What I am saying, however, is that keeping people away usually makes us feel safe, and not in a good way. We live in the most connected yet disconnected age since the Garden of Eden..we are lonelier than ever, and our isolationist ways have left millions struggling through life…honesty and intimacy are far more difficult than silence…’
While appropriate boundaries are occasionally needed, in our society walls are too conveniently erected and fortified, and silence magnified in our relationships.
In our day and age, it is not the lack of connections that breeds loneliness and worse maladies. It is the silence we allow in those connections. Overcoming silence with friendly and encouraging words may very well be that “cup of cold water” that is needed today, both inside and outside the church. “And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” (Matt. 10:42) And what better way to display to the world the love God has given, then to start within the church and go out.
Typical modern day lifestyles are often missing healthy margins and can be the death knell for maintaining social relationships, therefore it is becoming a trend to seek out receptive places to listen, speak and connect. Socializing is sprawling into constantly changing networks; i.e. facebook, twitter, blogging, linkedin, pinterest, instagram, google, tumblr and more. Some are surface skimming social avenues, but many have the means to go deeper. Churches who encourage and support small groups and small group atmospheres are onto the modern day needs of all ages within their membership. The kinds of relationships that result are an attraction to a lonely world. Online social groups, such as (in)courage offer places where friendships can be made and enjoyed to whatever depth and extent you desire and even encourage real life meetups by sponsoring annual simulcasts and other supports for such gatherings. The example of those engaging in social networking and small group fellowships may just be the winning ticket to stamp out the societal ill of problem-breeding relational silence and loneliness.
Perhaps it is the modern day come back to front porch chats among neighbors back when the word “neighbors” meant something more personal. What ways do you think socializing has changed, for better or worse, in recent years? What ways can you socially give “a cup of cold water” to someone? What ways might you be denying one by your silence?