the elevator is a microcosm of our world today –
a crowded impersonal place where anonymity, isolation and independence are the norm
What do you do when you’re in an elevator? I have to admit that it has been a while since I was in one (I live out in the boonies among ticks and small towns), but I remember what it was like. Just like everyone else (unless I was in the box with someone I knew) – I studied the walls, the back of someone else’s head, the numbers passing, a spider crawling across the floor – just to avoid speaking to the people with whom I was suddenly in intimate contact. Being in a crowded elevator is one of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve ever been in.
Because there’s always this urge to talk to someone. I never do, but there is the urge. I guess I never do talk to anyone because I don’t want to invade their space or I doubt they want to talk about the weather.
As individuals, we get into many awkward and uncomfortable situations. What is the tried and true defense mechanism? (shout out to Anna Freud, Sigmund’s little girl, for her research on defense mechanisms. One of the few things the family got right.) We all tend to isolate.
Likely we all know what it is to feel lonely in the midst of a crowd. We also know what it is to want to be alone when we can’t escape a crowd. So many of us make that a priority. Being alone. It’s not the healthiest response.
Granted, there are times when we all need a moment to recharge; I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a tendency many have to stay within themselves and leave others on the outside (I’m talking to you every teenager in the world!)
Speaking from the standpoint of Christianity and psychology (yes, sometimes they are complimentary), it’s an issue because it buries us within ourselves. We become too focused on self and that is always a problem. That’s how we lose our joy Christians!
Does Christ say that we should get off by ourselves and worship Him in thoughtfulness and silence? You may say that’s what He modeled, but I would argue that was for special occasions when He needed either to rest or be alone, temporarily, with His Father. Most of the time he was with those other twelve guys.
Jesus told the disciples that people would know who they were if they had love for each other (John 13:35). He also said, “I in them, and You in Me” (John 17:23). What is the perfect example of unity?: The Godhead.
Regarding Christians and unity:
- Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1. We may be quiet together, but at least we’re together.
- Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you… I Corinthians 1:10. Divisions, slights (whether real or imagined) are among the chief reasons people isolate and stop talking to one another.
- bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another… Colossians 3:13. Again: complaints need to be aired.
- Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil, or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing… I Peter 3:8,9. People end up isolating because they don’t want to say something bad or they have and they don’t want to deal with the consequences. Own up to your words and thoughts. Don’t isolate and make things worse.
- Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Romans 12:16. Pride, pride, pride! That destroyer! How often does the Bible give lessons against that?
Here are two scriptures that will complete defeat the elevator mentality.
- If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18. Isolation may be a version of living peaceably, but it’s a cop out. Following this directive means we have to engage with people and carry out God’s work.
- not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25. Pretty straight forward. Go to church because it’s beneficial both for you and for those with whom you interact.
I like the last part of Swindoll’s quote and think it is an apt description of people in our time. “A crowded impersonal place where anonymity, isolation and independence are the norm.” I hope none of us wants their church to mirror this quote. As Christians, we shouldn’t want other people to think we mirror it either.