I am one of six children and the youngest in my family. My mum’s first pregnancy was sadly a miscarriage. She was carrying twin boys. I am very much looking forward to meeting them! Two years later, my only sister was born, followed by a string of five boys. Even though I was surrounded by many siblings, I spent immense amounts of time on my own growing up. I just had very little in common with my siblings. My brother above me is five years older than me.

One of my earliest childhood memories was me crying on the first day of Chinese New Year as I saw all of my siblings, leaving one by one, to celebrate with their friends. I was desperate to join them but I was told I was too young. I would’ve been ten years old. Even though there wasn’t anything anyone could’ve done, I found it hard going.

There is a longing in our hearts for connectedness. We’re designed that way. “It is not good for man to be alone”. Jesus himself confirms this in his creed in Matthew 22:37-40, that fundamental to what it means to be made in God’s image is our capacity and desire for connectedness with himself and with one another. Sin damaged these connections but Jesus was sent to mend them.

Paul writes in Ephesians 1:5, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (NLT). God had ‘family’ in mind when he created mankind – a family he didn’t need but desired and created for our flourishing. Paul understood that it is only ‘together with all the Lord’s holy people’ that we are able to grasp fully the depth of Christ’s love (Eph 3:18). The individual is important but I can never understand ‘Who I am?’ outside of a relationship to a faith community. Keller once said, “We will not know God, change deeply, nor win the world apart from community”.

Robert Putnam, a social researcher asserts, “The single most common finding from a half-century’s research on life satisfaction, not only from the U.S. but around the world, is that happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of one’s social connections”.

Connectedness has nothing to do with being an extrovert, outgoing or knowing many people but being part of rich, meaningful, life-giving relationships! It is never too late to start.

Have a fruitful week!

Mark