The Loneliness of Rush Hour

Preface: Spiritual gifts are special attributes given to each member to be used for God’s glory and for the saving of souls.  

In Los Angeles our freeways are famous for smog and for the traffic jams that daily convert these sprawling structures into the world’s largest parking lots. Although I am spared a commute, I occasionally enter the fray. What strikes me about rush hour is how loneliness exists in the crowd. Most drivers sit alone in a sea of cars, insulated in their own world, despite being surrounded by hundreds of people. Meanwhile, the car-pool lane sits relatively empty as people find many reasons not to share a ride.

Despite the countless ways in which our society idolizes individualism, a deep hunger remains for authentic forms of community. The violence that crashes into our lives as well as the frantic chase after the latest fad are simply two symptoms of the lack so many people experience. It would be wonderful if Christians were exempt from such processes, but the corrosive elements of individualism that plague the general population also affect the church. The perennial question is how we can be in the world (as salt and light) but not of it.

There are, of course, no easy answers, but as Christians, we know where to look. Jesus’ example in becoming flesh and dwelling among us is the key since true community can never exist in a sinful world without sacrificial love. Only as we move beyond ourselves and step out in faith can we begin to experience the power of God at work within us. This is when our spiritual gifts can kick in. God has given us these gifts to show Christ to others (Eph. 4:11, 12).

By God’s grace, we do catch glimpses of Christian community in a number of places, including the love shared within a family, a friendship tested over time, and the fellowship of believers. But it can’t stop there. We need to get out of our comfort zone and reach out to the world. As we begin to step out in faith—with each other and in the world—we will gain a taste of the things that are to come when Jesus returns. Until that day, may we strive together to be builders of the kingdom of God.