“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Surveys of missionaries consistently point to a major hazard to missionary health and effectiveness: loneliness. A sense of aloneness depends to some extent on temperament. Some people seem to thrive with or without other humans in close relationships, though the numbers may not be as large as might appear. Others can’t survive without an abundance of human companionship—touchy-feely relationships are essential.
Most of us are probably somewhere in between. But God knows we need human companionship. “It isn’t good for man to be alone” he concluded at the very beginning. Marriage. And church— we really do need one another even if some of us feel that more acutely than others. Some missionaries say, “For my emotional and spiritual needs I must have those of my own kind.” There may be a legitimate cultural element in the equation, but let’s be very sure there isn’t a latent ethno-centrism feeding such feeling. And yet, even missionary Paul, surely as free of racism as a person could be, felt lonely on occasion because members of his team weren’t there. The church and her members need to be on the alert to reach out to those who are silent in their loneliness. Special care for singles.
But as maturing Christians, we must also be proactive, taking the initiative to find and nurture friendships that are emotionally and spiritual satisfying to both parties. Not relying on individual technology or streaming. That’s one major purpose of church! If you’re strong and independent you may not feel the need so acutely, but beware! We really do need one another. Besides, others need you!
And if you’re “people-addicted,” in some measure of pain without plenty of close relationships, don’t throw a pity party. Take the initiative to build mutually strengthening relationships.
If there are weak areas in your church life, it will likely impact your own spiritual well-being and your spiral up, because Church is one of the Spirit’s major means for bringing the growth he desires. That is why it is so sad that a majority of American young people reared in the church no longer participate in the life of the church. Is one reason for this tragedy that the church is not fulfilling the purposes for which God designed it?
In fact, if connecting with people bonds are not being met in your life, why not pause now and reflect in prayer on any action steps you need to take to tighten church-bonds in your own life? For example, how could the social distancing and disconnect created by the Covid pandemic have been reversed in your church? How can you help another connect?