This came up in a conversation last Saturday, with a young man who was asking about what church he should go to.  He had a choice between a church where he had deep relationships and the second was a church where he just enjoyed a good church experience, but had a hard time making any connections.

I asked him, “do you remember the movie with Tom Hanks, called Castaway?”

He remembered with a smile and said, “Wilson!”

“Yes,” I replied.

Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) was alone on that island.  And he needed a friend.  At some point he adopted the volleyball, Wilson, as his compadre.  He gave Wilson a personality.  He created conversations in his head.  They even had adventures together. He did all this to fill his sense of isolation.  He created a friend in his mind.  This friend met his needs.  But this friend had nothing to do with reality… it was a volleyball, after all.

“You see, we do that with God,” I continued.  Some people want to worship God in isolation, whether alone at a lake, a golf course, or in a sea of nameless worshippers.  It’s just me and God.  There is a great danger to that.

Without deep relationships, with others who interact with Scripture and the Spirit of God, we begin to make God into a friend of our creation.  We hold thoughts about God that we like, or we feel comfortable with, but may have nothing to do with reality.  We do this even when we hear the best sermons, because we hear what we hear.  We pick and choose what “speaks to us.”  And unless we have the challenges, encouragements, checks and balances with others on the journey, we will end up making God into what we think we need.  In the end, we might as well pick up a volleyball!

I finished, “This is why we need relationships.  Go, where you can be involved in lives.  Go, where people will challenge, encourage and even correct your view of God. It’s in the messiness and rubs of relationships that we learn most about Jesus!”  And we’ll know he’s not a God of our making.

The truth is, we can get good sermons anywhere – even from time to time, on this blog.  😃

I’d love to read your comments.
Jim is also the author of “Transformed Pain,” a book about his journey with heart disease and understanding how God works in our pain.