The typical conversation on sex is centered on all the things we’re not supposed to do. But there are deeper forces that come into play, including the very dynamics of living in love.
Humans are, by nature, social beings. Of course, there are moments we like to be alone. We need private time for prayer and contemplation. Some need more private space and private time than do others. But we tend to feel sorry for people who are always alone, and particularly for those who do not have sufficient social skills to establish bonds of friendship and who consistently fail to enter into meaningful relationships.
The Bible pictures people as parts of various social networks. The family, friendship, ethnicity, community, and church are dominant themes. The Bible points to Jesus’ Father as the Father of all humankind, which means we all are brothers and sisters in a very real sense (Acts 17:26). Living in relationship is the essence of human life. When Adam was formed, God immediately created a partner for him. Family life was a divinely devised model for human happiness. The Bible repeatedly underlines the tremendous value of genuine friendship and the blessings of belonging to a wider community.
The various aspects of our Christian life are blended in our membership to the body of Christ: the church. The church is more than a place where like-minded people meet and enjoy fellowship. Nonetheless, for many the church is indeed the focal point of their social life. This has both positive and negative aspects. Without Christian friends we have few, if any, role models. Associating with others who also serve God and also have adopted a biblical lifestyle will help us to remain faithful and to grow in our Christian relationship.
But if we have no friends outside the circle of fellow believers, we will have few opportunities for witnessing. In all parts of the world, friendship evangelism is the most successful method of church growth.
The harmony and order that still can be seen in life, existence, and the natural world point to God as their Originator. In the same way, the body of believers known as the church—God’s new creation—also should display the harmony that God intended among the beings He created. How do we display this harmony? The answer is simple. Put aside the self-seeking and self-promotion that the world tells us are necessary for survival. Love others more than self and seek to do them good. Embrace the selfless life of Christ as your own.
Churches are very similar to families in that members may have relatively little in common with other members. It will take care, effort, and intentionality to ease the tensions that inevitably arise and promote harmonious relations with one another. When it happens, that, says Jesus, is when the world will know you are a child of God. (See John 13:34, 35.)
As we grow in our Christian life, we become more and more convinced that Christ does indeed offer us life “to the full.” We often have, however, a hard time explaining this to those who have not committed themselves to Christ. For them the Christian life appears to be rather boring. They dislike the fact that it seems to bring all kinds of restrictions. But Christians have learned that not all experiences may actually make our lives richer. Many things we might do carry a minus sign rather than a plus sign and contribute to an inner emptiness rather than a fullness of life.
Ever wonder why God created light before He created a light source? The sun doesn’t show up until day four of Creation week, nearly a hundred hours after light has been shining without it. Perhaps God wanted us to remember that before there was anything else, He—the Light of the world—was already there. His power, love, goodness, and the fullness of His life are underived; all stem from Him and from His very nature as God. God has given us the fullness of His life through His Son. When Jesus says that He has come so that we “ ‘may have life, and have it to the full’ ” (John 10:10, NIV), He is referring not just to physical life in its various aspects but to spiritual and eternal life, as well.
The Gospel of John is quite emphatic from the beginning that Christ is the Source of that life (1:3, 4). John goes on to say that this Life is the “light of all people” (vs. 4, NRSV). Here John equates life with light, God’s first creation, suggesting that life shares the qualities of light. Even now we use it to symbolize wisdom and understanding, revelation and inspiration.
Life “to the full” is the kind of life full of that light of God. It is a life that has meaning—that brings inner peace. Its happiness does not depend primarily on external, material circumstances. It is a life lived in a responsible way, caring for our physical life as best we can. It is also a life lived in relationships, for God designed humans to live in communion with others. Most of all, it is a life totally renewed in Jesus, a life that will be changed and growing in God’s grace. It is a life that is connected to the Source of life and will, therefore, be eternal.*