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Icebergs, Islands, Sheep, & Wolves—Pick Your Metaphor

Humans were not made to be islands. Or icebergs. Or lone wolves. Pick your metaphor—they all mean the same thing. We're not designed to handle everything ourselves or to answer all of life's questions from the depths of our own personal wisdom. An individual sheep is easy pickings for a wolf. You don't need to be a follower of Christ to understand that isolation has its place, but it isn't a healthy place to stay forever.

And yet, we do love to put up walls, don't we? We hide our struggles from each other, avoid things that may stretch us or grow us or make us uncomfortable, shy away from things that frighten us and sometimes it means we find ourselves alone. I can relate to this personally: in fact, in many ways, it's been the theme of my life. For a time, being with people represented all kinds of fears and uncertainties. My solution?

Stop being with people. Avoid it. Run from it. Build a cottage in the woods and live on wild mushrooms and birchbark tea and get news of the world from local birds.

Okay, the last one was one isn't exactly literal. But figuratively, it's not too far from the mark.

The thing is, putting up walls in this way only creates an illusion of safety. We're not any safer than we were before, not from Satan's attacks or the spiritual war raging around us; all we've done is remove the feeling of opposition or resistance, to make ourselves more comfortable in the present.

Ironically, this whole issue of isolation applies to groups as well. See, Christ's Church—not one building or congregation, but what C.S. Lewis calls the Church "spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity," the Church as Christ desires it, united by our common adoption into Christ's family—is not a collection of individual groups. At least, it shouldn't be. It's all too easy to fall into the trap of regarding one particular group or building or country as the centre of all things, and the walls we put up between our group and others' might remove some opposition, yes. It might make things more comfortable, keep us with likeminded people, prevent us from coming up against anything too different. But the more isolated a group becomes, the safer it feels, the less safe it actually is.

A group of sheep isolated from the herd is still easy pickings . . . and actually, a much better feast.

All this to say, let's not be lone sheep, drifting icebergs, or desert islands. Let's allow God to work not only in our individual hearts, but in our relationships with others. Let's remember to have a heaven's eye view of Christ's family and to never cut ourselves off from his Body. Let's strive for spiritual effectiveness, not safety.

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