The Lone Wolf Christian | the Old 'Me-and-Jesus' Syndrome
- Summary: I recall years ago hearing a song with the phrase “me and Jesus got a good thing goin'.” At first glance that sounds positive (except for the bad grammar). But taken wrongly, that attitude can become anti-Scriptural — what I call “the old ‘Me and Jesus’ Syndrome”! The spiritual "loner," the lone wolf Christian.
God never intended us to fly “solo” in life. From the beginning, from the very Creation, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). God routinely “sets the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6). Ask yourself: while on this earth, was Jesus a loner? No! Other than during personal prayer times alone, He was continually in the very midst of people — from his closest disciples to the large crowds that followed Him.
In the fresh Pentecostal revival of Acts 2, thousands came to repentance and to personal, saving faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38-41). God in His wisdom did not leave them to flounder alone in their new Christian faith. No, but rather He immediately grafted them into the family of believers in Jerusalem — “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47b, KJV) ... “those who were being saved” [NIV]. New converts were “added to the church”, not left alone to develop the habit of what I call “the old ‘me and Jesus’ syndrome” which is unfortunately embraced by many who, to their own hurt, become lone wolf Christians.
The Lord takes individuals who enter into His great salvation and plants them into the fellowship of the church. In Jerusalem, the new believers were grafted in among the existing believers, and together “...they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42, KJV).
1 John 1:3, 7 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ....  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
- •• These verses reveal a very important insight into God’s intentions for us, fellowship-wise.
- • vss. 3 and 7 clearly declare the Lord’s intention that Christians “have fellowship with us [fellow believers] ... with one another”.
• And this fellowship with other Christians is linked to our having a saving relationship, and therefore the resultant fellowship, “...with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (vs. 3).
- •• In sum, our spiritual journey includes coming to a saving relationship with God through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Then He plugs us immediately into edifying, supportive fellowship with other born-again sons and daughters of God. No lone wolves are encouraged in the New Testament Church.
- • Yes, we will and must continue to have an intensely individual relationship of faith and love towards our Savior, Jesus Christ. No other person can establish that relationship for you. You alone must come to Him in faith and repentance. However, from that point of conversion on, Jesus does not allow us to limit our relationships only to Him and thereby isolate ourselves from others. To the contrary, He declared that the two great commandments of the Law were to (1) love God and (2) love our neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). It's hard to be a loner and at the same time to love your neighbor.
The Bible abounds with symbols that reveal the corporate nature of the Church. Let’s now take a brief look at some of the great Scriptural symbolism that reinforces God’s purpose to “set the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6). In my young adult years I was saved while serving in the U.S. Air Force. I felt a keen sense of loneliness and was instinctively drawn to churches in my city to find fellowship. I know that was put into my heart by God, and He was faithful to plant me into a wonderful church in Anchorage, Alaska. To this day [2018 edit], 47 years later and living in another state, I still have lasting friendships with many people I met in that Alaskan church. The Lord had indeed set this solitary man into a family.
1) The Church as the Body of Christ —
1 Corinthians 12:27-28 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
Romans 12:5 So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
- •• There is beautiful, heaven-inspired balance here. Our individuality is spoken of favorably — “...each one of you is a part...” At the same time all the members belong to one another and collectively “form one body”.
•• As the Holy Spirit gives you a spiritual gift, your exercise of that spiritual gift in the corporate body is what makes it meaningful and edifying to others. In fact, we cannot isolate ourselves and withdraw our spiritual contributions from others, since “each member belongs to all the others”. That is a startling statement: I do not have the right to isolate myself from my brethren; in fact, I “belong” to them! It is antiscriptural for me to isolate myself from my brethren and just to go solo in my walk with the Lord.
2) The Church as a Flock —
Psalm 78:52 But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the desert.
Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
- •• Again and again, in both Testaments, God speaks of His people in the corporate sense of a flock. It is the individual sheep (or caribou or moose calf), separated from the flock, who falls prey to the ravenous wolves. We see that principle here in Alaska very clearly. In some parts of the state live the musk oxen. When threatened by wolves, the herd forms a circle, with the adults facing outwards with their large horns to ward off the predators. The vulnerable calves are safely guarded within the protective circle of the herd.
•• The shepherd-flock interaction is very special to God. Jesus Himself is the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). And he appoints mature men (elders, pastors, etc.), under His guidance, to “be shepherds of the church...the flock”. Good shepherds feed, guard, lead, and more. They love the flock and care for it, even with their lives. These benefits of being in God’s “flock” are forfeited by those who embrace the isolationist “me and Jesus” syndrome.
3) The Church as a Family —
Psalm 68:6, KJV God setteth the solitary in families...
Galatians 6:10 ...the family of believers
Ephesians 3:14-15 For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
- •• God’s “whole family” includes the living believers on earth (that is, us), plus the deceased believers who have passed on into His presence in heaven.
•• By virtue of our saving faith in Jesus Christ, God is our Father, and we are His “sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18).
•• Once again, we see the collective, gathered nature of the Lord’s Church under the distinctly relational “family” symbolism.
4) The Church as a Temple —
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?...  God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
Ephesians 2:21-22 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
- •• We believers are God’s temple, “joined together ... built together”. In a well-built temple, every stone is joined properly with those adjacent to it. They draw strength, stability, and beauty from their relationship with one another as the building rises to “become a holy temple in the Lord”.
•• Each of us is a "living stone... [intended for God’s] spiritual house" (1 Peter 2:5). The isolated stone merely sits there, contributes nothing to the building, and draws no blessing from fulfilling its part in God’s building process.
5) The Church as God’s Army —
Philippians 2:25 ...Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier...
2 Timothy 2:3-4 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer.
- •• The terms are military, and they are corporate, not individualistic — “soldier ... commanding officer ... fellow soldier ... with us...”
•• The Church is revealed as God’s army on earth. We are to be “good soldier[s] of Christ Jesus”, who is our “commanding officer”.
- • A soldier fighting alone is in deep trouble. Soldiers working, planning, and fighting together present a formidable force against the enemy.
Isaiah 62:5 ...as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you [His people in Jerusalem].
2 Corinthian 11:2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you [the Corinthian Christians as a whole] to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.
- •• The bride-and-groom relationship is the final symbolism for the Church that we will examine. In our human relationships, this is a one-on-one situation. But notice that God in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New relate as husband to a collective bride, to the group of believers.
•• God spoke to His people in Jerusalem in bridegroom-bride terminology. Paul desired to present all the Corinthian believers as “a pure virgin” to their husband, Jesus Christ.
•• So here again, we see the corporate nature of the Church. As a final caveat, let me state once again that each individual must have his or her own personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.
•• But we must not stop there, at the one-to-one relationship, and fall into the all-too-frequent “me and Jesus syndrome”. Jesus most assuredly wants us always to cultivate and increase our personal closeness to him. He also wants us to move forward, to grow in our faith, and to live out our faith on this earth as part of His corporate body, flock, family, temple, army, and bride.
Have you fallen into the “me and Jesus syndrome”? Have you become an isolated believer? a lone wolf Christian? an island? My sincere prayer is that the thoughts and Scriptures I have shared today will encourage you to find fellowship with other believers, to join a Jesus-honoring, bible-preaching local church, and to experience the joy of what John the apostle called “fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ ... and with us ... with one another” (1 John 1:3,7).
My writing of this message was inspired by a sermon related to
this theme that I heard preached in June 2008 by Pastor
Gary Clark at Eugene Christian Fellowship.
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©2008, 2015, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.