Insulation, Not Isolation
As I’m insulating our pipes and winterizing for the nationwide freeze, I’m reminded of our need for insulation as God’s children. That is “insulation”, not “isolation”. Isolation is the removal of something whereas insulation is more about protection and not necessarily removal.
A couple of reasons you may need to insulate something is to 1) keep it’s heat from escaping (and to keep the cold out); like in the case of wrapping pipes for a freeze. The other reason is to keep the noise out; like in a room within a larger building. We are the light of Jesus Christ in the world and it’s important that we keep that fire burning inside. It’s also important that we keep our focus. That entails protection from all the outside noise.
How do we do this? Not by isolation, but by insolation. We need community to help us insulate. Sometimes in America you’ll hear someone say, “You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” We’ve developed a very individualistic way of looking at our relationship with Christ. However a life of isolated Christianity was foreign to the early church. We need each other. The word church itself means assembly. We are the community of God. It’s what we were designed for. Community is also a tool God uses for insolation. We need each other to keep our fires burning and to keep out the noise that wants to drag us away from our heat source, which is Jesus Christ.
Recently I learned of another prominent Christian who’s reputation took a nose dive when it was discovered that he had been living in secret sexual sin. I believe this was a genuine believer who allowed himself to be isolated and not insulated. Again we can’t afford to be isolated, but we do need insolation. I’d like to share a few passages that illustrates how the early church operated in insulation, but not isolation.
Does this sound like the isolated thinking of ‘I don’t need the church to be a Christian?’
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)
Insolation involves bearing one another’s burdens and even learning to welcome hard conversations out love for one another.
“Brothers and sisters, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)
Insulation but not isolation involves a willingness to be vulnerable and authentic with our Christ family. It keeps us from going into the dangerous place of hiding and allows God to have access into our lives through those we love and trust.
“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
Living life in community takes a great deal of humility, but when we learn to embrace insolation but not isolation we find the healing in our spirit that God has designed and redeemed us for.