The most memorable opening sentence to any book ever written – Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” – God is an artist. In fact, The entire first chapter of the Bible reads like a catalog of tools being laid out by a master artist. He prepares the canvas with background and foreground, textures and colors, depth and contrast, and unique shapes and objects. As an English teacher, there is an added sense of appreciation that all of this is spoken into existence: God is also a poet.
As we read on, it only takes about two pages before we go from the creation of man to things quickly spinning into chaos. But if we are paying attention, even before we get to serpents, gardens and “fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (try saying that three times quickly), something intriguing occurs. God looks to man and sees that “it is not good for him to be alone.” The reason this is significant here is that before sin was even in the picture, man was not meant to be alone. Even if Eden life remained perfect and blissful, God the artist realized man shouldn’t be alone.
As the great story progresses from book to book, we are shown countless examples of this remarkable concept: we are not meant to go through this life alone. It is not part of the plan. Sometimes it seems God orchestrated it so that like-minded people could do His work and urge each other on, such as Daniel’s account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Frequently, God allows for one person’s strengths to benefit another person’s weaknesses. For instance, God wants to use Moses to liberate his people; however, Moses has trouble with public speaking, so God puts Aaron in his life. David, before he was king, was blessed with a unique friendship with the current king’s son, Jonathan. This friendship ultimately results in David’s life being spared because Jonathan dares to defy his own father, King Saul.
I want to point out how the New American Standard version of the Bible describes this friendship. “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself” (1 Samuel 18:1). What a beautiful interpretation of a friendship. Poetic. Here, we are given a description of the kind of friend one can turn to in times of crisis: not just a shoulder to cry on, but a set of shoulders ready to help bear a burden. It evokes the very words of Jesus in John 15 when He commands us to love one another. Christ goes on to clarify what He defines as love: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Not only is Jesus describing what he will soon do for each of us, He is also explaining the lengths we are to go in caring for and loving one another.
Frequently, God allows for one person’s strengths to benefit another person’s weaknesses.
Each one of us is a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Look around you. What a beautiful exhibit! But unlike many of the paintings and sculptures of the great art galleries, we were never meant to exist in isolation. The art of life is about going through this journey together: celebrating the great joys and weeping together in times of sadness. John Donne said it this way, “no man is an island entire of himself,” which basically means when one of us struggles, we all do. We should all feel it.
Similarly, the abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky would often discuss an idea called “sympathetic vibrations” to explain the deeply moving aspect a great work of art has on its viewer. For example, in the same way vibrations of sound from a violin being played can cause nearby instruments not being played to begin reverberating the same tone, we are moved by one another. When one of us is hurting, it should resonate deeply. It should resonate so much so that we are stirred to act, and move, and love: this is what we have been called to do. So “Beloved, let us love one one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).