“The greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, just having no one.”
“Loneliness is the leprosy of the 21st century, eating away its victims and repelling those who encounter it.”
–Maggie Fergusson, “In Solitude What Happiness?”
“The church lies at the very center of the eternal purpose of God. It is not a divine afterthought.”
Mobile technology and social media have many advantages. But one of the related problems is that this technology tends to lead to isolation and loneliness. People measure the number of their “friends” by the number of likes or contacts. But there is little face to face communication. Increasingly people are lonely.
According to a study by AARP an estimated 42.6 million Americans over the age of 45 suffer from chronic loneliness, which significantly raises the risk for premature death. One researcher called the loneliness epidemic a greater health threat than obesity. Loneliness and depression are also increasingly common in students. People have time to check social media hundreds of times a day, binge-watch TV shows, but don’t seem to have time for their friends!
In the beginning God made us in His image. One of the important aspects of being made in the image of God is that we are created to be social beings. We are not meant to be alone or live in isolation. That was never God’s plan. We are meant to relate to one another. He gives us family. He gives us marriage and society. And to believers saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, He gives us the Church.
The Church is God’s idea; it’s not some optional extra. Don’t think of it so much as a place you might attend, but as a community of believers. The Church is our new family in Christ. God is our Heavenly Father and we are gifted with many brothers and sisters in Christ to love and to serve as we worship and grow together. Followers of Christ are meant to be active members in the Church, and to love the Church. We display Christ to our unbelieving world.
So I have wonderful news. There’s no need to be lonely, and there’s no need for any of us to lack friends. You’re invited to be part of this special God-given community, the Church, the body of Christ.