Satan watches for those vessels that sail without a convoy,” wrote Puritan pastor George Swinnock (1627–1673). Every individual knows he was created for community. Isolation is the Devil’s playground, and our Enemy is on the lookout for the Christian who thinks he can stand alone in independent isolation from the fellowship, accountability, and encouragement of faithful brothers and sisters.
Before the fall of man, even though the Lord God walked in close communion with Adam in the garden, our gracious and triune God knew it was not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18), and so God created someone who would meet Adam’s needs and relate to Adam in a way that, by design, God Himself did not. In His often-overlooked grace, God blessed mankind with the most beautiful, intimate, and joyous relationship that exists between mere human beings: holy wedlock between a man and a woman, who by design and covenant become one flesh. Nevertheless, even from that glorious union, He called them to multiply themselves into communities of families that would populate and dominate creation to share life and glorify God together.
God gave each of us an insatiable hunger to experience life together — life’s joys and passions and life’s sorrows and burdens. Men need men, and women need women. Younger men and women need to listen to and learn from the wisdom and experiences of older men and women. Older men and women need the passion and patience to sit down and tell their stories and lessons to the next generation. Women need authentic relationships with other women to form the enduring companionship of sisterhood that not only detests divisive gossip and grudges but defends, encourages, and bears the burdens of every woman so that no woman is left alone to fend for herself in serving the Lord in her many callings.
Even though many men are completely content with the community and companionship of images, games, and voices on a screen, men desperately need the camaraderie and fraternity of other men. Men are made to experience intimate and authentic, loyal and enduring friendships with other men — on the battlefield, in the foxhole, at the gates of the city, and at the coffee shop on the corner. And while no wise and truly humble man will ever consider himself a hero, each and every man of God by His grace is called to strive to conquer this world, his flesh, and the Devil, shoulder to shoulder with other men who together serve one another in a company of heroes as husbands and dads who serve by leading their wives, families, churches, and communities into fellowship with God.
By Burk Parsons is editor of Tabletalk magazine and associate minister at Saint Andrew’s in Sanford, Florida