During this pandemic isolation, I’ve been taking trips down memory lane, reading through journals from my travels when I was a single, carefree globetrotter. But apparently less carefree than I’d remembered, having repeatedly recorded in my notes: “Feeling lonely.” As a bachelor until I was 48, I knew what it meant to be lonesome. Free as a bird, yet lonely. Roaming the world, yet isolated. I was living proof of the truth: “It’s not good for man to be alone.” Is it any mystery, then, that God has set us in families, marriages, society, and the church? We are not meant for isolation. We were created for relationships, for companionship, and for love.
If that’s what we were created FOR, the more intriguing question remains: WHY? What was God’s motive and purpose in choosing to create human beings? Why (in his triune fullness) did God say, “Let us make mankind in our own image”? Are we to believe that God was a Victor Frankenstein, blithely experimenting with the power to create human life, even risking the possibility that we might turn out to be hideous monsters? Or, were we merely “Plan B” when “Plan A”—the angels—went awry, with perhaps a third of them joining in Satan’s rebellion? If so, why make us a “a little lower than the angels,” knowing that every one of us would rebel?
One can only speculate, and not without caution, but consider this logic: If there is some way in which we are like God (as spiritual beings, as moral agents, as having free will), must there not be some way in which God is, himself, like us? As in, perhaps, desiring relationship, companionship, and a yearning to share love? Paul suggests as much when addressing the Athenian philosophers on Mars Hill (Acts 17): “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” God’s journal may never record, “Feeling lonely,” but, on page after page, divine love and a craving for relationship is writ large! “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
Being omnipresent, God is never isolated, giving no cause on that score for the loneliness we experience. Nor is God, being complete, in need of a completeness found only in another, or others. Whereas we love because of some felt need that love can satisfy—whether emotional, spiritual, sexual, or social—God didn’t need our love. God IS love! Nor could God possibly have needed relationship, which makes his motive for creating us all the more mystifying. Unless it has nothing to do with need, but a divine desire to share the exquisite joy of fellowship.
Have we underestimated the gift of fellowship, both human and divine? Like most living creatures, we too are social animals. John Donne was right: “No man is an island.” Never before have we realized just how intertwined we are! Which is why our prolonged isolation and long-term prospect of social distancing is so problematic. But unlike other social animals, we humans—as image-bearers of a loving God—were made for the sweetness of fellowship.
Wearing my crumpled law professor hat, I’m not so sure we have a Constitutional right to be freed from isolation, as many are insisting. Emergency powers are inherent in all governments. But with each passing day of isolation, we are more and more distanced from the very reason God created us: to share delightful fellowship with each other, as with our Maker. If you are feeling isolated or lonely, don’t forget what prompted our being. Having no need, only desire, a loving God longs to share joyous fellowship with us, and surely all the more in our isolation.