Fellowship                                                   September 2019

My first priority upon coming to a new town, a new duty station, with my Marine Corps father, was to head down the street.   There I corralled the first boy I came across and said, “You’re my new friend.” I did this because we would only be there for a day, or a month, or a year; three years was tops for sure. That need for companionship was my most important agenda item.

There was a 1959 movie called, On The Beach   You can see it on YouTube, but I must warn you that it will exhaust you. The take away is that we need each other. No matter what, human fellowship is critical to our good health. In the movie, a submarine is sent from Australia to search for a single radio signal emanating from the hand of an unknown telegrapher in America where supposedly everyone has died from radiation poisoning.   Learning the truth about that hand, that person, was the most important thing.

During the Vietnam War, prisoners in the Hanoi Hilton, as the place was called, went to great lengths to have any sort of contact or communication with each other.  Lt. Cdr. Eugene “Red” McDaniel, shot down in May of 1967, said, “If you’re out of communications with other prisoners for a long period of time, we found that after 30 days you begin to go off the deep end. You lose touch. It’s important for you to contact people on a daily basis.” There was even a code that was delivered by the punctuated sweeping of a broom. Solitary confinement could make a person insane.   That has not changed.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be the last person on the earth after a nuclear holocaust?   At least Adam and Eve had each other. Of course, they also had daily, bi-directional communication with the ultimate influencer, God himself. If you were the last human, how would you feel? No more conflict in the family, or at work, or with a neighbor because there would be no more family, co-workers, or neighbors. Would you feel better off for a short while?   If you did, I would bet that the emotion would pass very quickly into a smothering silence. Just from a practical standpoint, you need the others because of their specialized skills. Who would make the products you need if you did not have the others? What an enormous work load would be placed upon you if you had to daily manufacture everything.

Even schizophrenics make up people with whom to fellowship. Young children will sometimes have a secret, invisible friend. The loneliest depiction of a person I have ever seen was Dave in the final scenes of the movie “2001 – A Space Odyssey.”

So cherish your family and your friendships. They are part of what makes you human. They are what separates you from the other animals in the world which, for the most part are only aware of others, even in their own species, as competitors. We are the ones that are called upon by the Master to “Love one another, as I have loved you.”   He also said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”   What a friend we have in Jesus and in each other.

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