According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, 30 to 50 percent of Americans are introverts. Perhaps this is one reason independent Christianity appeals to many of us. You know the type—the Jesus-and-me mindset where we forge on alone, just us, our Bibles, and our Lord. It’s a good, good life.
Or is it?
A decade ago I was sitting on my dorm room floor, sobbing over some boy (you know who you are, Greg), when my roommate arrived.
“You okay?” Kelsey asked.
“Yes,” I sniffled. “Jesus and I have some things to work out.” In seasons of fatigue, fragility, or fear, I curl up in a down comforter like a hermit crab and wait for everyone to go away. This was obviously her cue to leave. But to my dismay, she sat down.
“Court,” she said, “sometimes we need a prayer that’s stronger than our own.” I mulled over this borderline blasphemy. My prayers are strong enough, thank you very much. Yet she didn’t budge.
“Fine,” I said. “You can pray for me, I guess.” She put an arm around me and asked God to heal my heart. Because Kelsey helped carry me to Jesus, I encountered him in a deeper way. In that moment my maverick brand of Christianity began to lose its luster.
Real Faith Requires Real People
The Christian life is almost impossible without community. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in Life Together, “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community . . . Let him who is not in community beware of being alone . . . the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair.” Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between, the call of Jesus is clear: we are created to live in right relationship with God and one another. Perhaps nowhere is this more beautifully described than in the second chapter of Mark’s Gospel. To the paralyzed man in Capernaum, four faithful friends make all the difference.
One day they hear that Jesus is back in town. Rumor has it that he heals people, so these men come up with a plan—a kind of surprise party conspiracy. They will take the suffering paralytic to see Jesus. They load him onto a mat and off they go. But when the five travelers arrive at the house where Jesus is speaking, there’s a problem. It’s filled to overflowing, and no one has the good sense or the good manners to make way for a paralyzed man. His situation looks hopeless. Yet his friends are determined.