Introduction: More and more people in the United States these days
are single. Most people find their entertainment in the Internet,
television or video games. Right now you are using the Internet to
study the Bible by yourself! Are we all loners? An uncle of mine,
who died many years ago, was a minister in the Salvation Army. He
used to tell me about the “old days” when the church was the social
center of the community. Is this trend away from community,
especially church community, a good or bad thing? Does it impact our
health, spiritually or otherwise? Let’s dive into the Bible and find
out what it says about community!

  1. Helpers and Mates

    1. Read Genesis 2:18. Why is this true? Isn’t God all the
      company that Adam would ever need?

      1. Knowing the end of the story, was this good advice
        from God? Wouldn’t Adam have been saved a lot of
        grief if he had answered, “Lord, you are all I ever

        1. Is there a lesson in this for us today? (An
          imperfect marriage is generally better than no
          marriage. Since we are all imperfect people,
          this is a real relief!)

          1. Or, are these two separate issues – the
            ideal for Adam and the facts that followed
            from poor decisions?

    2. Read Genesis 2:19-20. Talk about imperfect partners!
      Where were God and Adam first looking for a partner for
      Adam? (The text makes it appear that Adam was checking
      out all of the animals for a partner. “Elephant? No, hard
      to have eye to eye contact.”)

      1. What kind of success did Adam have? (None. An animal
        was not a “suitable” partner for Adam.)

      2. Read Genesis 1:27. What does this suggest was the
        problem? (Adam and Eve were created in the image of
        God. Animals were not.)

        1. Is there a lesson in this for community?
          (Television, Internet, video games and even
          pets do not provide the ideal community that
          God recommends.)

        2. Is there a lesson for us in this in terms of a
          spouse? (Imperfect is okay. Unsuitable is not.)

    3. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. What practical reason do we
      have for community?

      1. I don’t need anyone to pick me up when I fall. I’ll
        bet you can pick yourself up when you fall. How
        should we understand this text? (I think it means
        more than just stumbling. It suggests that when we
        “fall” in life, whenever we need help, a partner can
        help us out.)

    4. Read Ecclesiastes 4:11. If it is summer, or you live in a
      warm climate, is this what you want?

      1. Is this text limited to cold-weather advice? (It
        seems to have a deeper meaning. The individual
        energy of each person is multiplied so that the
        total is more than the sum of its parts.)

    5. Read Ecclesiastes 4:12. Wait a minute, three strands!
      Are we talking about marriage? (When we were discussing
      Adam and Eve, we were talking about marriage. See,
      Genesis 2:24. Ecclesiastes 4:12 is talking about a
      community greater than marriage.)

      1. Are friends like strands of a rope – the more you
        have the stronger the result? ( Ecclesiastes 4:12
        refers to times of distress. “Overpowered” and
        “broken” suggest a struggle. In times of distress
        friends can help you through the difficulty. Going
        through a problem alone is difficult.)

        1. What about the saying “A friend in need is a
          pain in the neck?” (The original saying was “A
          friend in need is a friend indeed.”)

    6. Read Galatians 6:1-2. What kind of burden are we to help
      carry? (This refers to burdens that arise from sin. This
      suggests that true friends not only help us in the
      unforeseen difficulties of life, but also help us when we
      have made a serious mistake.)

      1. What practical lesson does this teach us in choosing
        our friends? (You should chose friends who have a
        relationship with God.)

      2. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:18? What is the reason why
        Christian friends can give us better advice? (The
        “words” referred to here are the inspired words of
        God. There is a great deal of advice floating
        around. Most of it is bad advice that conflicts
        with the teachings of the Bible.)

    7. Read 1 Peter 3:8-9. Peter follows up his advice for
      marriage with this advice to the spiritual community. Is
      this your approach to dealing with fellow church members?

      1. What is at stake here? (Being blessed! This kind of
        attitude, these kind of practices, lead to being

    8. Read 1 Peter 3:10-11. Is this advice for dealing with
      fellow church members? (The text starts out with “if you
      would like a good life.” This is advice for living.)

      1. Would this advice help us with our social
        relationships? (This text suggests two things.
        First, that if we follow these practices our lives
        will be better. Second, it suggests a health benefit
        when it says “love life” and “see good days.”)

        1. How many people do you know who have a terrible
          life because they seem to be constantly seeking
          to create trouble?

    9. Read 1 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 and 1
      Corinthians 7:32-35. After all of our discussion about
      the benefits of marriage, how should we understand this
      advice? (If you look at the entire chapter, the overall
      theme is that individual circumstances can change the
      advice that is it generally helpful to be married.)

      1. Read 1 Timothy 4:1-3. What does this teach us about
        the “bottom line” in marriage? (That it is wrong to
        teach individuals that they should never marry.)

  2. The Church

    1. Read Ephesians 4:11-13. Why do the members of the church
      have different jobs if they are supposed to be “reach
      unity?” (In 1 Corinthians 12, the Bible compares the
      church to a body. The church needs people to have
      different roles in order to have true unity – to make
      everything work smoothly.)

      1. What kind of unity is the goal of the church?
        ( Ephesians 4:13 tells us a unity of faith. A unity
        in understanding Jesus.)

    2. Read Ephesians 4:14. What is the danger of not being part
      of a spiritual community? (You may have strange ideas.
      You are open to being deceived. I can absolutely attest
      to that in my religious liberty cases. In any case where
      sincerity of religious belief is at issue, I have a rule
      of thumb to refuse to represent those who are not part of
      some local church community. This is based on my
      experiences with those who are not a part of a spiritual

    3. Read Galatians 5:13-15. Do you want to serve? Or, do you
      want to be served? (Part of the Christian community is to
      serve one another. Some members of the church (just like
      some friends) think that the idea of service is that they
      should be served. If you are someone who serves others
      more than you are served, consider the blessings you have
      gotten from service.)

    4. Friend, have you made community a priority? If not, why
      not determine to do that today? It will improve your
      spiritual life and it is likely to improve your health.

  3. Next week: We begin a new study on Romans.