By Jimmy McCarty
Of all the things said about Seung-Hui Cho, the shooter in the Virginia Tech massacre, the one that stood out to me the most was the fact that he was a loner. He had a history of mental issues, an obsession with violent video games (Counterstrike) and extremely violent movies and a history of harassing women, but the thing that stood out most was that he was a loner.
This is something that he shared with the killers in the Columbine massacre. It is a trait that runs through killers of the most extreme sort (mass murderers, serial killers, those who torture their victims, etc.).
It doesnt surprise me that this is the case. We were not created to be alone. We were created for community. It is in our DNA, both physically and spiritually. One of the first things God says in the book of Genesis (the foundation for all monotheistic faith) is that it is not good for man to be alone.
The witness of the Christian scriptures is that we are to be a community of people completely devoted to one another. We are to look after one another, share with one another and care for one another. We are not meant to be alone.
However, our American culture does not want this message to be heard. It goes against our individualistic culture. We want people to believe that you can make it on your own. You can pull yourself by your own bootstraps. We are taught our first concern should be protecting our rights, our property and to look out for number one. In America, you are right if you do what you can for you no matter what it costs any one else or how isolated it makes you.
This goes against what Christianity calls us to, but unfortunately not what most preachers call us to. How often have you heard the phrase personal relationship with Jesus Christ? I have heard it more times than I can count. However, I propose that it is an unbiblical concept. It definitely isnt found in the Bible, but more importantly it goes against one of the core teachings of the New Testament. Community.
When Jesus evangelized, he didnt invite people into a personal relationship with him; he invited them to join the kingdom of God. The New Testament witness is univocal in its presentation of Christianity as participation in a new community of fellow believers. (1 Peter 2:9-10; Acts 2:42-47; Romans 14-15:7 are just a few examples.)
You can not be a Christian by yourself. You can not be a Christian by watching the church channels and having a daily quiet time. Christianity requires community. We need other people to encourage us, edify us, teach us, challenge us, love us, convict us and pray for us. We need other Christians; we need other people.
In this age of internet dating, MySpace, Facebook, satellite TV and webcams it becomes very easy to avoid people. It becomes very easy to become a loner. We can not let this happen. Being removed from people is not our natural state. We can not be so arrogant as to think we can do it on our own because we cant. I need you and you need me and we all need each other. Its how the world works. Its how faith works.
So, the next time you see a loner make an effort to create some type of community with them and for them. Realize that it is our calling to ensure that there are no loners out there. When the world, i.e. American culture, creates an environment that creates loners we as Christians should be ready with an open door that says, You will never be a loner here.
Let our churches, and let us, begin to open that door.
If you liked this article, check out: The Rebirth of Sanctuary
Jimmy is a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, the husband of Desiree, a seminary student, and a servant of the homeless in Pomona and a church in Los Angeles.