Let me ask you a tough question this morning. Do you consider yourself a "loner"? Most of us would jump to our own defense to immediately deny being a loner, but I really want us to consider this one a little more carefully than a casual answer. Most of the time, we consider someone a "loner" when we see them isolate or insulate themselves from relationship with others, but scripture might just shed a little light on some other characteristics of these individuals. The primary characteristic is that of "doing our own thing". This might just describe us a little more than we'd like to admit at first, but if we were honest, we all have times when we are more concerned with "our own thing" than the good of the "group"!
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (Colossians 3:15-17 MSG)
We think of a loner as someone who avoids the company of another, or prefers to be alone. There are always going to be times when we prefer to be alone, simply because we need to regenerate our emotional or physical strength. To live this way all the time is just not practical, though. We need each other to "sharpen" our character. When we isolate, we avoid conflict. To avoid conflict short term may keep us out of the "emotional soup" we seek to avoid, but it is creating an emotional hole from which we may not fully dig out if we allow this isolation to continue too long.
Why do we go off to do our own thing? Usually it is because we have the belief our way is the best way - our solution to the issue is the best solution. This is not always the case, though. When we settle in on just our own solution to an issue, we often miss out on the synergy that is created when a problem is open for the "group" to address. This is the power of small groups (also known as cell groups). They provide an atmosphere where it is okay to begin to examine the issues we face and then get the "read" of the group on how it is we can best handle what life is sending our way.
When we are involved in the lives of others, we are doing exactly as God intended - we are being the iron which sharpens the iron of another's character. Now, a word of caution here - we are not to be their conscience, nor their "leader" to whom they submit all their life decisions to in order to garner support. We ARE to be engaged with each other, though, so that we hold each other accountable, not allowing the other to slip into patterns of behavior which are destructive or contrary to what the Word defines as "safe" for us.
In small group relationships, it is easiest to allow every detail of our lives - words, actions, and the "whatever" - to be looked at through the eyes of those who care about our success in this walk with Jesus. When we isolate, we avoid the "care" another may provide in the "tending" of the fruit of our actions. To walk alone is to truly allow oneself to be without restraint - for our own actions will almost always seem okay to us, but could be clearly in defiance to what God outlines as specifically "wrong" for his kids.
If we find we have been a little too guilty of just going off to do our own thing, maybe it is time we re-establish our relationships with one another. In those moments of accountability, we are subject to change which could make all the difference in helping us realize the potential God has for our lives vs. ending up falling way short of full potential. Just sayin!