Writer: Casey Fiore
Big Idea: When the phone became smart it went from 4% anxiety to 75% within a generation of college students. In a single study from Lebanon 44.6% of students reported being addicted to their cell phone. 34% of Stanford students reported addiction to their cell phone. One does not have to dig deep into the research to uncover the bottom-line: we are more isolated, anxiety-ridden, depressed, and relationally disconnected than ever. Truth is: we’ve stopped talking to each other. Today, UberBlack riders can tell an Uber driver to “be quiet” not by asking them to turn down the music, or turn up the heat, but with the press of a button to eliminate the “awkwardness of human interaction.” We need help relearning how to be human. Authentic community is the solution and the good news is, it’s built into the DNA of a church, but it requires we all take a risk to be known. Vulnerability is risky, but isolation is deadly.
Key passages: Colossians 3:12-17; Hebrews 10:24-25; Romans 12:3-13; Matthew 18:20; Psalm 133:1; 1 Corinthians 12-13
Vulnerability is one of my favorite relational topics to talk about. In fact, I used to think I was the best at it. I interned at a church in Minneapolis and was told consistently how refreshingly vulnerable I was. I was an open book. I didn’t hold back and wasn’t scared to talk about big or scary things. Go me!
Then, during the same year, my fiancé and I started premarital counseling. Mike expressed his concern and occasional (legitimate) frustration that I wouldn’t share with him. That’s right – Miss Vulnerability couldn’t talk about her feelings with her own fiancé, who was asking so sincerely to be let in. There are a lot of psychological reasons for this that have since come out in therapy (insert huge plug for therapy here). Boringly enough, it boils down to my family of origin. We didn’t talk about our feelings. My dad did not find them interesting or important, so we just shoved everything down and moved on.
I hated this, by the way. I didn’t want to be acting this way with the man I was going to marry. I don’t believe the culture of isolation is something people want for themselves, but rather a natural progression of our historical moment. Technology, social media and other factors are in play. On the other hand, I also do not believe that there was a “golden age” of vulnerability some time in human history when we all had perfect community and never hid anything from one another.
There’s certainly no evidence of one in the Bible (save Eden), and it doesn’t look good for modern history, either. C.S. Lewis published The Four Loves in 1960 and it contains a piercing thought on vulnerability. He didn’t think his generation had this whole thing figured out, and he knew isolation takes its toll. He writes:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
- If anyone is new, start here, if not go to question 2: When/how did you become aware of God’s love? Who were the people who played a key role in your spiritual journey? How? What are 2/3 key moments in your relationship with God? Take a moment to ask questions.
- Do you agree with C.S. Lewis’ assessment of what isolation does to your heart? Why or why not?
- Share a time in your life when you felt isolated. What did it feel like? How did you work through it and/or what did you learn from it?
Read Colossians 3:12-17.
- While it’s not called out specifically, where do you see vulnerability playing a part in the community described in this passage?
- What are the benefits of living in a Colossians 3 community?
- What is one word from this passage you’d like to try incorporating intentionally into your relationships this week?
- Read Hebrews 10:24-25. What similarities do you see between this passage and the Colossians 3 passage?
- Life in the Bay is busy and demanding. How can we “not give up meeting together,” in this environment?
- What is one risk you can take this week to be more vulnerable?
Prayer: Take a moment to share prayer requests and pray for each other.
Weekly Prayer Focus: Ask God to show you where you need to be vulnerable and let others in.