One Is the Loneliest Number

Published 1:26 pm Saturday, September 16, 2023

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By Michael J. Brooks

It was unusual in a community we lived in years ago that two sets of siblings had no relationship and never spoke to one another, all the while worshiping in the same congregation as the family of God.

One of their children mentioned to me in a sidebar conversation that the sisters were estranged, but I never knew the background story. I did learn the brothers’ story. One of them claimed the other got a bigger piece of the pie when their dad’s estate was settled. Interestingly, they lived on the property within sight of one another, though they weren’t good neighbors to one another.

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The rock band “Three Dog Night” took a song to the top of the charts in 1969. An iconic line from the song is, “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”

How true.

People live in animosity due to various issues. The death of parents and property distribution is a common way this happens since a few dollars seem to make a major impact. But it’s not only siblings, but sometimes parents and children who collide. A friend in another state often tells me about his “good daughter” and “my other daughter.” The “good daughter” eats with him every week and calls every day, whereas the “other daughter” hasn’t spoken to her dad in years. He’s never explained this to me, nor have I asked, but I do think it’s a sad thing to see. And it’s not uncommon.

The brevity of life is one motivation to keep relationships in repair. How often does death come and leave regret in its wake? We’re soon plagued with “what if’s” and “why didn’t I’s?” But then it’s too late to make a difference. It’s not too ghoulish to think thoughts of death from time-to-time as a reminder to craft today in a more positive way. As Jesus said, “The night comes when no man can work” (John 9:4).

But the brokenness of Christians takes separation to a higher level of offense.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Inasmuch as possible, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

The Apostle John was even more graphic: “This is how God’s children and the devil’s children become obvious. Whoever doesn’t do what is right is not of God, especially the one who doesn’t love his brother or sister” (1 John 3:10). There’s greater obligation within the Christian community to live in harmony with others since scripture makes it plain that not to do so indicates a breach in our relationship with God.

It’s never the will of God for men and women to build petty walls of separation.

We’re summoned to something better.

We’re summoned to enriching relationships with others. 

“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is