Loneliness will make people do things they may never have done if they were in true fellowship with others. Loneliness, if I looked up statistics, probably kills more people than any disease does. It will drive people mad and push them to feel things they may never do or feel otherwise. It will highlight pain, confusion and will increase depression and anxiety; loneliness is a silent killer of the soul.
The body of Christ is, just that, a body. If your body is sick with loneliness then we are not doing our job properly. Programs and courses are fine but if healthy love, support and community are not there we are failing. I’ve spoken about individualistic society in previous blogs, and it is this societal situation which would have been alien to the culture Jesus was born into. There was no need for Jesus to major on the need for community living because it was a community-based society. Therefore, as the church we have to be counter culture in more ways than one. We have Biblical morality, which is becoming more and more counter-culture, and something many seem to hone in on, but we must look at this idea of being counter culture in terms of our ‘living’ arrangements. This community-deprived culture is something that the church, in the west, really needs to address. We seem to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater; in our desire not to be ‘religious’ or ‘irrelevant’ we have managed to fracture what is so vital in the church – tight-knit community – and we must look at how we get this back ASAP. Because the much want for revival will be unsustainable without a solid, nurturing continuous community. However, like revival, changing the tide is very difficult without people actually wanting it; lip service is pointless. Our community-deficient living is something that needs dealing with but it does not just lie at the feet of church leadership, ALTHOUGH leadership are the ones that must lead the way! Our lives are given, or supposed to be, given over to this life and that means our whole lives; there is no clocking off and if that attitude is there then we have completely missed what church actually is. A well-esteemed theologian named Jean Zizioulas termed the phrase – being as communion – we must look to that as our ‘slogan’ for Christianity, the whole of our being, our complete lives is about – loving God and others – that is being in communion without disconnection, just like the Trinity.
This blog is not about – we should do this or that and we will solve the problem – that would be far too arrogant and an over simplified understanding of a very complicated issue. Being counter culture is not an easy thing to navigate and anyone who thinks they’ve got it down are probably not doing it as well as they think they are. BUT it is an issue we really need to spend a lot of time working on for the best solution for our space on this planet. Yes, it won’t be easy, it won’t be comfortable, it will mean the killing of flesh and surrendering our lives, again.
I think the more I walk this life the more I realise nothing is supposed to be easy for the flesh, we got to crucify that thing, but the benefits will be so pure, and isn’t that the point of this life in Christ?
When other people who are lonely see that being in Christ and communion means you are never lonely again, you won’t need to do courses and flyers and spend hours in meetings trying to work out how to keep people in your church, they will want to be there and they won’t want to leave. If people aren’t lonely they won’t worry about rejection, they won’t want to be willfully disobedient to God to find comfort; because they will see communion as far more important than being relevant or caring what people outside the church think of them.