Are You Lonely? (Newsletter 08.22.18)

Dear Church Family,

Are you lonely? Study after study suggests a growing number of Americans are. The clear consensus is that humans weren’t made to live in isolation. M.I.T. neuroscientists even found mice were impacted by being separated from other mice for only 24 hours. This finding was cited in the same New York Times article that reported, “Researchers have found mounting evidence linking loneliness to physical illness and to functional and cognitive decline. As a predictor of early death, loneliness eclipses obesity.” In another article entitled, “The Perils of Social Isolation,” clinical psychologist, Frank McAndrew asserted, “It’s clear that meaningful connection to other people is as essential to our health as the air we breathe.”

Now just to be clear, our culture is ultimately concerned about loneliness for different reasons than we are, but here’s why I include these findings: as Christians with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other, this shouldn’t surprise us. Do you remember what God said after creating Adam and placing him in the Garden? To this point we’ve only heard “It was good…It was good” over and and over again, so that we’re struck by the first thing God says is not good in His sinless world. Do you know what it was? Genesis 2:18 records, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” Enter Eve. If isolation from other beings like him was not good for Adam before the Fall, what does that tell us about the importance of meaningful relationships with other people now?

Proverbs 18:1 says, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” When we isolate ourselves, we are going against the grain of the universe. When we intentionally separate ourselves from community, we are in effect saying we know better than God how to thrive. It might be what we desire, but that desire runs contrary to sound judgment. God created man for relationships with others. Jesus created the church for relationships with others. I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it? We are now new creations, but creations all the same. Now our relationships are just taken to a new level because of our unity in Christ.

Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would become perfectly one even as He and the Father are one. Our triune—three-in-one—God, in whose image we are created, is the underlying reason we must not isolate ourselves. Growing from that is another reason: so that the world may know that the Father sent the Son and loved us even as He loved Christ. The love that God showed us in sending His Son to die in our place is poured into our hearts when we believe which causes us to show that love to others. The world will know we are Christ’s disciples because of our love for one another (John 13:34-35). That’s why one of the four things we’re explicitly told the early church devoted themselves to was “the fellowship” (Acts 2:42).

You see, we cannot say to any other member of our church, “I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:21). That simply isn’t true because it isn’t the way God has designed us. We need each other. We must not isolate or separate ourselves from one another because our love for Christ and one another will not allow it (Hebrews 10:25; 1 John 2:19). In fact, what makes heaven so beautiful is that we will forever be with God—together. No more loneliness. No more division. Only love. Only unity. Until that day, may we move toward one another in loving community before our watching, lonely world.

Gentry