It was a transformational week, full of activity the universe had not seen or witnessed before. The earth was described as “formless and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the deep”. But when God stepped onto the scene with a blueprint for transformation, things changed. The formless took shape; darkness was transformed into light; emptiness was filled with stars, plants, fish and animals. Where there had been a deafening silence, there were the sounds of mooing, meowing, neighing and every sound you can imagine. Stifling stillness was replaced by animated activity in the sea, land and sky. God looked and declared everything to be very good. When the Bible says God in Genesis Chapter 1, it refers to the Godhead– Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:26). You see, everything started with the community of the Godhead; and every living thing that came into being during that transformational week was created in pairs to be fruitful and multiply after its kind. The school of fish, the herd of animals and the flock of birds all lived in community.
However, something in this otherwise idyllic week stood in contrast to everything that had so far defined it. On the sixth day God said, “Let us make man in our own image” (Genesis 1:26). So Adam was created, after which “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). For the first time, the Godhead looked at their work and uttered the words, “It is not good…” How can anything that comes from the hand of God be not good? Why was it not good? Was there a fault in the creation of Adam? The answer is given in the verse, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” The problem was Adam’s social isolation. Every living thing was in community except Adam. He was alone. This was not only at odds with everything God had created but with the Godhead community in whose likeness he was created. That is why God declared it not good. It was not good then, and it is not good today. God had a solution to Adam’s social isolation. He created Eve, a helper suitable for him. The pair were instructed to be fruitful and multiply and to grow the community of humanity who would live in fellowship with God and each other.
Today, as we navigate 21st Century individualism, society thinks they can dispense with community. People in neighbourhoods live as strangers. Despite the direction society is moving towards, I put it to you that what God said at the beginning still applies – It is not good for man to be alone. This is not just speaking about marriage. I am broadening the concept to anyone living in social isolation.
Over the last two years, humanity has been forced into a social experiment where governments have been forced to mandate lockdowns and isolation measures to try and contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus. With the prolific use of social media, it would have been thought that lockdowns would have had little to no impact on society, given our ability to connect online. In 2021 more than 3 billion people are using social media.
Unfortunately, despite the phenomenal numbers, studies show that the use of technology and social media has minimal influence on a person’s feelings of isolation. “Face-to-face interactions, physical and mental wellness, and work-life balance have the greatest impact on loneliness.” The ongoing loneliness, despite these technological innovations, clearly speak to the fact that “people are craving community now more than ever.” Forming a community requires much more than simply gathering people together in the same place or accumulating users on an app or site. This partly explains why, despite the pervasive social media 1 103+ Social Media Sites You Need to Know in 2021 (influencermarketinghub.com) connectivity, people have suffered mental health issues due to lack of human contact during the pandemic.
So, we have a dichotomy: God created us to live in community, however society promotes individualism, the very thing that the Godhead said at the beginning was not good. In acknowledging this craving for community, tech giants are moving beyond social media to Metaverse concepts which will create, in my view, an illusion of community which will embed loneliness. Man’s solution can never be better than what God has provided.
The only solution is still what the Godhead provided to Adam’s loneliness. We need ‘one another’. This phrase is found in the New Testament 100 times and was as central then as it is today to making disciples and building Christian communities. Being in community is part of God’s design to bring about transformation in our lives.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV).
Here’s the challenge: Most lonely people do not know how to connect to our Christian communities. What can we do to reach out to “one another” both in the church and in the neighbourhoods around our churches? How can we bring about the ‘good’ which God brought to Adam’s loneliness and create our own Transformation Weeks for those around us seeking connection?
I believe the Adventist mandate has never been to just offer biblical truth, which is important to bring people into relationship with God, but also to provide authentic transformative communities. At the end of our engagement with others, can we say, “It is very good” (Genesis 1:31) because we have successfully created authentic relevant communities!