Are you lonely? If so, believe it or not, you would not be alone! Despite living in the most connected time in world history, with connection to others as easy as a click of a button, society has become more isolated than ever. Dustin Willis in Life in Community, comments, “cellphones make it possible to talk to someone without being present, and we can text without ever hearing a person’s voice. We are constantly linked through Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram (and whatever else some Ivy League student creates next week). Technology has made communication so easy that we are addicted to convenience. Sadly even with all this amazing technology, it is more difficult than ever for us to build genuine relationships” (p. 22).
To further articulate his stance, Willis outlines statistics from recent studies by Duke University and the US Census suggesting we are in “the most dramatic and progressive slide toward disconnection in history” (p. 23). He notes:
27.2 million people live alone.
More people say they feel alone than at any other time.
25 percent say they have no one they can turn to as a confidant.
More people link their depression to loneliness.
The number of “socially isolated” Americans has doubled since 1985 (Willis, Life in Community, p. 24).
Despite living life in solitude, feeling alone, and feeling socially isolated, a person will still choose to jump on social media to fill any downtime.
Desire for Connection
Culture seems to be searching for fulfillment in a connection with others. Might it be perhaps because we were created to crave connection with community? As a Christian, one must remember that “to be a Christian is, by definition, to be part of the community of God’s people. To be united with Christ is to be part of his body” (Chester and Timmis, Total Church, p. 87). To pronounce yourself a Christian, is to publicly proclaim that you affiliate with the group of people who also believe Jesus is our rescuer from sin.
Just as some feel a natural connection to other Christian believers, some tend to avoid affiliating with Christian community because they identify fault in those that choose to associate with affiliated religion. Maybe that is you. Not convinced that you will be better as a part of a gospel community? Bonhoeffer argues, “sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation” (Life Together, p. 112). Would you rather fight the power of sin by yourself using only your own perspective to determine the work of the Holy Spirit and how to combat sin, or would you rather submit yourself to a group of sinners working together to determine the work of the Holy Spirit and combat sin together?
From the beginning, man has been created with a yearning for community. It is a part of mankind’s design. The first book of the Bible starts with showing Adam and Eve being created and living in community with God. Genesis 3 shows the fall of man, where Eve is deceived by the serpent and her community partner Adam sits idly by. This is a great example of why making decisions alone can be dangerous. Adam should have intervened in Eve’s life to prevent them from disobeying God. Yet even though Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were forced to leave the garden, God created a means for rescuing mankind. Willis writes, “yet God did not leave us there. He created a history-sweeping work to redeem us, to restore the wholeness of Eden. That redeeming work happens through the church – the people whom, through Christ’s death and resurrection, God has rescued from their own folly (see Eph. 2:1-10). He has taken a bunch of traitors and adopted us into His family, welcoming us to His table (see Gal. 4:4-7; Rev 19:6-9). God has made us a community with a deeper foundation and a brighter future than anything the world has to offer” (Life in Community, p. 25). Our purpose as Christians is to remain on the Earth and reveal God’s glory to the nations. We are called to come together and live a life so unique and different from the rest of the world that people should be banging on the doors trying to get in!
We can live in sacrificial love with other Christians because, “it was none other than Jesus Christ himself who suffered the scandalous, public death of a sinner in our stead…the Cross of Jesus Christ destroys all pride” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p. 114). This should be our motivating factor that drives each and every one of us to deny self and strive to live in a way that will help point others towards Jesus.
As Paul writes in Philippians 2:1-4, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Willis mentions in Life in Community, “as the church we are called not only to seek the lost, we are called to bring hope and help to relationships, to minister to people’s loneliness. To do that, we must contend for a community defined by the Scriptures, rather than fall into the counterfeit pattern of individualism that is so prevalent in the world (and that too often sneaks into our churches)” (p. 26). Christian, I appeal to you therefore to put aside the things of this world, reconcile yourself to your brothers and sisters in Christ, and join the body of Christ.
In closing, consider the words of this song. Let them challenge and encourage you.
We are the Body – The Church at Brook Hills
We are the body of the most High
We are the bride of a Savior
And we fall for the King of the kingdom
As we sing the songs of salvation
And we stand for those who cannot stand for themselves
And we love the loveless
And we go where Your light’s not shining
Cause we are the body of Christ.
We shine like a city on a hilltop
We boast in the Spirit living in us
And we march on a road leading to freedom
As we reach out our hands to the fallen
And we bring living water to the thirsty and
We live for the One who was and is and is to come
So our lives count for something greater than ourselves