In the final message of our series, "We Are the Church," we’re discussing s a topic close to my heart, as it addresses a widespread issue in our society: loneliness. In a world filled with anxiety, anger, and uncertainty, finding solace and connection has never been more vital. Last week, we took a brief hiatus from the series to discuss how to react when confronted with evil. We emphasized the importance of avoiding worry and anger while focusing on doing good and trusting in the Lord. This week, we return to our series on the essence of the Church – not its physical structure but the community of believers that make up the true Church.
A Tale of Loneliness
As I contemplated this topic, a memory came to mind from a time when I was departing on a particularly lonely journey. Just the day after proposing to my now-wife Karen, I embarked on an extended work trip that led to an unexpectedly long and lonely ordeal. My journey involved driving through a blizzard in a Chevy Astro van, weighted down with audio-video equipment, making it a treacherous experience. What was supposed to be an eight-hour trip extended to nearly 19 hours. As the days went by, the loneliness grew, with no one to talk to, or even the luxury of FaceTime, as this was in the pre-smartphone era.
Reflecting on this experience, it reminded me of the profound truth that we are not meant to be alone. In Genesis 2:18, we find the Lord God declaring, "It is not good for man to be alone." This declaration underscores God's divine intention for us to live in community and not solitude. Even the most resilient contestants in the TV show "Alone" eventually succumb to loneliness, proving that we, as humans, require connection and fellowship.
God's Perfect Community
In Genesis 1:26, we read that God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness." This verse reveals that God, as a triune God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), is not alone. He had perfect community within Himself, which is why He did not create us out of loneliness but out of His love. God's love is not merely something He does; it is who He is. In 1 John 4:16, we are reminded that "God is love," and we are called to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, making love the greatest commandment.
The early Church understood the importance of community, even amidst severe persecution. In Acts 2:46-47, we see how they met together daily, breaking bread and praising God with joy. They were keenly aware that they needed each other to nurture their faith, provide encouragement, and offer accountability. In today's world, we may not face the same level of persecution, but we are undoubtedly confronted by constant temptation, societal pressures, and challenges that necessitate fellowship and mutual support.
Loneliness often goes hand in hand with pride. We might hesitate to reach out to others when we are struggling, fearing that they will perceive us as weak or incapable. Proverbs 11:2 warns against pride, saying that "when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." My personal experience of overcoming my pride inside a dark cave highlights the importance of humility. I initially thought I could handle the situation on my own, but it was only when I humbled myself and sought the help of my community that I found my way out.
So, how do we conquer loneliness and foster meaningful connections? Firstly, we must reach out to one another. Don't hesitate to express your feelings of loneliness or seek advice and guidance when needed. Loneliness can be defeated when you're willing to reach out, and your community is ready to support you.
Secondly, we must stop trying to navigate life alone. While self-reliance has its merits, it's essential to acknowledge when we need assistance, support, or guidance. Don't allow fear or pride to prevent you from seeking help when it's needed most. Humility is the key to wisdom.
Reconnecting with God
Lastly, it's crucial to assess our relationship with God. Some of us may have vibrant social lives but feel distant from God due to neglecting our spiritual connection. If that's the case, it's time to prioritize our relationship with God by setting aside time for prayer, scripture reading, and following His divine will. Remember, God created us to be in communion with Him, and neglecting that relationship can leave us feeling spiritually isolated.
In a world where loneliness is pervasive, let's take action to strengthen our bonds with both our fellow believers and God. Reach out to others, spend time in prayer, and don’t take this world on alone