Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him–a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
The church was designed to function as a body. There are many members that comprise the whole body. The more people toil together, the stronger the bond is. Isolation is not healthy for prolonged periods because it weakens the individual. We become less efficient, less informed, less capable of withstanding blows of life, and on it goes. There is precious power in having allies, especially when we are under attack.
Much of this year has proven that we, as a congregation, work well together. There is strength in numbers. There is value in getting to know one another. But the Bible also says that those relationships must extend beyond ourselves. In fact, 1 Peter 4:9 says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” The word for hospitality is only used 3 times in the Bible. It doesn’t mean hospitality to friends. It is a combination of two words that literally means “loving strangers.”
As the church, we grow stronger when we grow. We only grow when we learn to love strangers, showing hospitality to people who are not known to us.