So many people in our community feel the pain of isolation and loneliness. For some it may be because they have never received love. For others it may be because they have been badly hurt. Or perhaps to some it is the inability to trust. For all these three reasons it can turn homes into prison cells.
Breaking this cycle of loneliness is one of the hardest challenges for any person to undertake. Mother Teresa said this about it, “Loneliness is the leprosy of modern society.” And no one wants to know they are a leper. How can God’s people, His Church, help lonely people. First, I believe it is important that every follower of Jesus understands the importance of community.
Writer, Edward Hallowell says that for most people the two most powerful experiences in life are achieving and connecting. Connecting has to do with our relational world, such as falling in love, forming great relationships, being cared for when we are sick, or receiving deep words of love and encouragement. Achieving on the other hand has to do with our accomplishments. Hallowell points out that our society is increasingly devoted to, obsessed with and enslaved with achieving. It is increasingly bankrupt and impoverished when it comes to connecting.
However we should know that it isn’t accomplishments that keep us happy and together for the long haul, but connectedness in meaningful and loving relationships. I will ask you a question. Have you ever met anyone who succeeded in relationships, who cultivated great friendships , who was devoted to their family, who love to give and receive love, yet had a bad life?
In the creation story of Genesis, we see that God created man in his own likeness. However man was alone and God says, this is not good. Man needed fellowship. This is an important observation to understand that every human being needs human relationships.
John Ortberg says this, “Community is what you were created for, It is God’s desire for your life. It is the one indispensable condition for human flourishing.”
One of the most thorough research projects on relationships is called Alameda County Study headed by Harvard. Social scientists tracked the lives of 7000 lives over 9 years. Researchers found that the most isolated people were 3 times more likely to die. People who had bad health habits but great relationships lived significantly longer than people with great health habits but were isolated.
It is better to eat chocolate with good friends than to eat broccoli alone
The brilliant writer Dallas Willard sums it up like this, “God’s aim in human history is the creation of an inclusive community of loving persons with himself included as its primary sustainer and most glorious inhabitant.”
If we as church grasp the importance of community and connecting we can help knock down the prison walls of isolation and loneliness in people’s lives.