“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.'” (CSB – Read was chapter)
Every story starts at a point of peace. Now, in our world, broken as it is by sin, we only rarely start from a place of actual peace, but at the least our stories start from a place of relative peace. Then, something happens that breaks the peace. The rest of the story, then, is about restoring that peace. It’s not just made-up stories that start like this, though, this is the narrative arc of the stories of our lives. Bigger than that, this is the arc of the story of creation. Indeed, all of the stories we write are merely reflections of this larger story.
In the beginning, the world was good. Everything in it was good. The repeating refrain throughout Genesis 1 has God declaring what He had made to be good. As a song in a musical my boys were in a couple of years ago puts it: “It is good. It is good. It is oh, so good.” We hear that over and over again. Each day He makes something new and each day He declares it to be good. Peace is the rule.
When we get to the point of the story here in Genesis 2:18, though, that peace is shaken a bit. It’s not shattered like it will be in the next chapter, but when everything is perfectly balanced and stable and all of a sudden things shake a bit, it’s no less jarring. What’s more, if you pay attention to the sequence, this comes before the final declaration that things are very good and God resting, pleased with His work. It’s like He’s in the sequence of building an intricate, long domino chain and just before He puts the final couple of pieces in place, one of them falls over. There’s a moment of tension as everyone holds their breath, waiting to see if any more will go down.
What is this thing, then, that spoils, however momentarily, the otherwise spotless goodness of God’s creation? God says it is not good for the man to be alone.
You see, we were made for relationships. In creating us uniquely in His image, one of the characteristics God shared with us was His relational nature. We were made for a relationship with Him as we’ve talked about recently, but there’s more than that. We were created to be in relationships with other creatures that are like us.
Well, when God had just created the man, there weren’t any creatures like Him. He was with God, yes, but He was alone. This wasn’t good.
One of the beloved mythological figures of our culture is the rugged frontiersman who heads West in search of more land and freedom than he could have in the cities of the East. The most romantic aspect of this myth is the part where he goes out there and makes it all on his own. He doesn’t need anyone else to make his way. He can do it.
Now, like any myth, there is a grain of true here around which is wrapped a thick husk of false. The true is that we are indeed incredibly capable beings when properly motivated. Our capacity to create and innovate sometimes boggles the mind. The much bigger false, however, is that we can do any of this or even survive on our own. We can’t. We’ve never been able to do that.
A few years ago the movie Into the Wild came out. It’s about a kid who, with his head full of romanticism, decides to buck the planned and prepared life his parents have for him and venture first west, and then north to Alaska all on his own to survive in the wild. Displaying a disturbing lack of awareness and profound ingratitude for the many blessings and gifts he has available to him, he sets out on his adventure, makes it to Alaska, sets up shop in an old abandoned bus…only to eat some poisonous berries and die in a few weeks’ time. A life of incredible potential gone to waste because he bought into this myth.
You see, the truth is just as God says here: It is not good for us to be alone. We were made for relationships, for community. We need one another. And, human history bears this out rather well. We have always formed ourselves into communities and quickly. Survival has depended on it. We weren’t made to be alone. It’s not good for us to be alone.
So then…are you alone? That’s not necessarily the same thing as not having any people around. Do you have people with whom you are in a healthy, growing relationship? Do you have a community that you are a part of that is feeding your soul and to which you are actively contributing? You need one. The church is a great place to see this need met as it was designed to be met. Find a church. Get active in your church. It’s not good for you to be alone.