A long, long time ago, groups of people huddled around the fire at night.
The fire gave protection from the elements, protection from wild animals, light for those who stayed close.
The comfort and light of “the fire” became the place for fellowship. Stories were told, songs were sung, encouragement bestowed, instructions given, plans formulated.
Children learned the ways of the clan by watching and listening to their elders.
It was a sad and usually tragic thing to be excluded from this comforting circle of warmth, protection and fellowship.
Sadly, today, we Americans have dispensed with the circle of fire of both family and community. Sometimes, we avoid the circle of fire of our church, as well.
The reasons are varied: Too little time, hurt feelings, an independent spirit, a feeling of invulnerability within an economic system that provides never-ending safety nets, and so on.
How sad that technology has replaced fire for our daily comfort and fellowship.
How sad that we have so much that we feel no need to tell our stories and sing our songs to a broader audience.
And how sad that we sometimes fail to recognize that a part of us sickens and wilts when we avoid the circle of human companionship.
About ten years ago, when I lived up in the mountains, I found this pottery sculpture of friends standing around a fire. I call it the “circle of friends.” Their arms are intertwined and each member gazes into the fire. When the candle in the center is lit, the light reflects warmly on the faces of the five compatriots.
This is what God made us for: for fellowship both vertical and horizontal. We are not meant to be alone. Indeed, we are not safe in a lifestyle of aloneness.
Many Christians today think that fellowship and church attendance is optional. As if it is man’s idea, not God’s.
But right from the start, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Gen. 2:18)
We have been fashioned by our Creator for fellowship. And even though there are challenges and headaches involved in relationships, the consequences of aloneness are far worse.
By and large, people live longer and lead more satisfied and fulfilling lives when their faces are turned in the direction of others.