Someone wise once said “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers [and presumably sisters] live together in harmony!” (Psalm 133, NLT) Human beings are created to be social creatures. Even God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone”, when he created Adam, the very first guy. I suspect he was not talking about males only, but about mankind, all human beings. Sure, there are introverts who like their own company, but even strong introverts were designed to need interaction with fellow humans from time to time. Research has shown that infants that are deprived of human contact or exposed to the bare minimum of social interaction do not thrive. In fact, they pine away, are anxious, fearful, and often listless. We were made for each other.
I believe God designed the fellowship of believers to help meet that deep need for human contact. In church language, it is called the Body of Christ. We are to be Jesus’ hands and feet in this world, to be God’s conduit of blessing to other people – whether that blessing is help in times of crisis, encouragement in seasons of discouragement, correction when we go astray, studying together to be stretched and to grow, or even simply times to relax and laugh together.
Since we joined a particular church in Nairobi in1997, we have been part of a small group which formed in that year and has existed in one form or another up to now. Over that time span, members have come and gone, we have met at different times and places, but all those years, Chip and I and another couple, Nderitu and Mercy, have consistently been at the core of this group. This couple have been our friends all these 26 years and even our neighbors for most of those same years. They have stood with us when we were robbed at gun point in our home, they comforted us when I lost my brother in 2001 and again when our granddaughter died in 2021. We have studied together, worked together (I call to mind a certain community clean-up project), lent and borrowed stuff from each other, and played together.
I remember 2 small group fellowship outings in particular. The first was a camping trip this group took in the Aberdare Mountains. About 5-6 families (26 people in all, counting kids) packed up 3-4 vehicles with all our gear (to this day, I don’t know how we did it!) and headed for the hills.
All in all, it was a very fun trip. We beheld beautiful scenery. We ogled majestic animals. We told jokes. We played games. We separated sparring kids. We packed into 3 bedrooms with several bunkbeds each, and 1 sitting room, sharing only 2 bathrooms. It was a grand time.
One particular day, we were out sightseeing and turned a sharp corner to find ourselves in the midst of a herd of female elephants and their offspring. It was awe inspiring and terrifying at the same time because everyone knows how mothers can be with their kids! These particular mothers were not taking too kindly to guests on this particular occasion and so we were carefully working our way past the crowd, trying to be as invisible as a large vehicle packed with frightened/excited adults and madly chattering kids can be! Chip and I were in the same vehicle as Mercy and Nderitu, with Nderitu driving. We were winding our way down a steep, muddy hill, with excited mother elephants around us and steep drop offs to one side. I’m sure Nderitu was sweating, but I can’t vouch for that for sure as my eyes were glued to the windows, looking out for possible charging mamas defending their babies, and quickly repenting of any and all sins I could possibly have done in my lifetime. Poor Mercy was crying out “Nderiiiituuuuu” in her own panic, probably imagining all manner of horrific scenarios and tragic headlines in the following day’s newspapers. In the end, Nderitu heroically got us out of that tight spot, and all had a good laugh after the adrenaline slowed down.
On another outing with this same home group, we had decided to go to the water slides in Nairobi. Safe, right? Tame, for sure by comparison. Seeing as I don’t swim, I declined the water slides, preferring to stay at the picnic tables, guarding the food from marauding birds and animals (read kids) and chatting with the other non-swimmers. My friend and neighbor, Mercy, who had never been on water slides before, bravely decided to give it a try. She did have some misgivings, but this lady is courageous. The non-swimmers looked on in admiration, mingled with a little envy as she climbed the ladder and entered the tunneled slide. It took me a split second to realize that the peculiar sound I was hearing was a muffled high-pitched scream, as Mercy descended the slide at top speed. She emerged, shooting into the pool and exclaimed, shaking her head as she crawled out “This is NOT for people!!”.
Sometimes people think Christians always are or should be stuffy, fun-bashing spoil sports. We’re supposed to always be discussing serious topics and making sure everyone behaves themselves. But fun and laughter should be a major part of life. I believe God meant it to be that way. Yes, indeed, it is very good and pleasant for brothers (and sisters) to live together in unity!