As a child I was fascinated by hermit crabs and would collect them whenever we visited the beach. Hermit crabs are basically very vulnerable creatures and so they have to find a shell to hide in for protection. All of their lives they carry a shell around with them everywhere and retreat into it whenever they sense danger.
Over the years I have met a lot of people who are human hermit crabs. People who have developed a protective shell and whenever they get anxious or uptight, they retreat into their shell. Sometimes their shell is keeping everyone at a distance, for other people its the language they use that keeps people from getting too close to the real person on the inside. Sadly, with some human hermit crabs they use this shell so much that they cut themselves off not just from danger of being hurt in some way but also from people who want to help them and from even developing friendships of any depth. The result is that these human hermit crabs never really get to know other people or become known to other people for who they really are.
I was reading again all the “one anothers” of the New Testament. It struck me that what they described was a community where people had relationships that allowed them to come out of their shells, to be honest with other people about who they really are and what is really going on in their lives. Have a look at just these couple of examples below.
“Accept one another” (Romans 15:7)
“Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)
“…Encourage each other…” I Thessalonians 5:11)
“…Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
“Encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13)
None of those things can happen if we stay in our shells, if we put protective barriers between us and others in the Body of Christ. Unless we are able to “come out of our shell” with some people then we will never experience fellowship the way that Christ intended for us to experience it in His Body. The Body of Christ was never intended to be a community of hermit crabs. Authentic Christian fellowship cant happen when we hide who we really are.
So, let me ask you, how many people do you have a deep enough relationship with that means you are willing to come out of your shell and be honest and authentic with? Maybe God is nudging you to have the courage to develop relationships with people with whom you can come out of that shell?