I remember a time when a very long relationship ended, and the feeling was like a shotgun to my chest. I was lonely. I was fundamentally experiencing the brokenness of my humanity.
Inside the deepest part of our humanity lies a profound longing to live in true connection with people who understand, accept, and embrace who we are with loving approval. This is true because as humans we are fundamentally wired to live in community and relationship with others.
We’re not meant to live life alone, nor should we. The very core of our DNA requires us to live in the context of community for our lives to thrive with vitality and strength…
Conversely, isolation destroys us.
Unfortunately, isolation is dominating our culture more and more because we are individualizing everything to the extent of voiding (and avoiding) true community.
We’ve created our own culture that is really an anti-culture.
We exist in our own rooms with our own music and our own devices that display the shows we personally want to watch on our own terms.
We don’t know our neighbors yet live twenty feet from them.
We live in the most connected time in history, yet we’re experiencing more and more lonelinessthan ever before.
To further the problem, our digital age has created a space for us to live in the false community of social media. This epidemic in particular is creating the profound disillusion that we’re connected with people that we don’teven talk toand people we don’t evensee in person.
We see pictures of others on social media and it makes us feel like we’re keeping up with them, as if we’re living life with them. But at the end of the day, this is most assuredly a false community,and it breeds no life into us; in fact, it puts us in the space of comparing our lives with others and killing our joy.
Authentic relationships don’t exist online, but in person.
This “in-person” aspect of our relationships is critical because the more we lose it the more we deteriorate inside. Think of a child that isn’t loved, touched, kissed, hugged, or talked to by his or her parents. The child becomes cold and lifeless.
Another striking example is solitary confinement. Is it not used as an abnormally cruel punishment for defiant prisoners? Solitary confinement drives us crazy. We physically need others around us in community because the sting of loneliness can be debilitatingly painful.
But why is it sopainful?
Because we are fundamentally createdto live in connection and relationship with others, and when these connections are severed, we experience a break in our essential nature. Severed relationships are painful, physically painful, just like the aforementioned shotgun to the chest made me feel lonely and broken.
Being created to live in community, however, is an aspect of our humanity that comes from being made in God’s Image. God exists in one essence, but in three Persons. So this means that God is an eternal fellowship of community, and existing within is the Father, Son, and Spirit.
We function at our highest capacity when we live in community because God’s image has been imposed on the essential nature of our humanity, and we are at our lowest when we live in isolation. Think of it this way: Our happiest, most joyful, and brightest memories are no doubt the events that happen with others.
We thrive in communal events (especially with family we love) while solitary confinement and isolation destroys us. Essentially, it’s not good for anyone to be alone.
Unfortunately, and most commonly, we tend to reason that we don’t need anyone. But this is denial, and the truth is that we absolutely need to experience life-giving relationships with others. But we separate ourselves from God and from others by virtue of sin. So the dual effect of sin is that it separates us from the life-giving source that we need to function, and it separates us from the relationships we need to live healthy lives.
Yet, there is hope in our loneliness.
God bids us urgently and passionately to enter into a life-giving relationship with Him, and this is where we must start in order for healing, reparation, and redemption to begin.
God was not satisfied by knowing us at a distance, but instead entered into our humanity, clothing himself in flesh in the person of Jesus so that we could relate and identify with him perfectly, and so that we could know Him intimately.
Jesus understands the sting of loneliness because He voluntarily chose it in order to fulfill the will of God, and he did it on our behalf.
Jesus’s family denied him. One of his best friends, Judas, betrayed him to in order to kill him. The night before he was crucified his friends failed him, and at the moment that Jesus was arrested and sentenced to go to the cross, all of his friends abandoned him.
Furthermore, at the point of being crucified he cried out, “My God My God why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus’ eternal relationship with His Father was broken. In this, Jesus tasted loneliness in a greater capacity than any of us will ever experience so we would never experience it.
He welcomed loneliness so that we would not have to be lonely.
So, in Christ, God understands the cold sting of our loneliness and calls us into warm and embracing, life-giving relationship with him. In this we kill our loneliness and replace it with the most significant relationship that we could possibly have, a relationship with the very One who crafted our DNA and gave us life.
We are made to live in connection with God because, again, we are made in His image. The more we live in connection with God the more we become human. We obtain life this way. We obtain death apart from God.
What does Jesus offer?
Jesus offers a community, a family that we can belong to.
A new way of life with others who pray for us, care for us, and are there for us in time of need.
We don’t have to live broken and alone when God is pleading and passionately urging us to join his family in Christ.
This is our hope: although we isolate ourselves from one another, God creates a community that we can live vibrantly within where there exists joy and peace. These are the people that we get support from and find joy in.
It isn’t perfect now, but it points us to the reality that one day we all will live in perfect harmony and perfect relationship with one another, a day when isolation will not be known, and pain will no longer have any part of our lives.
This is the hope and promise of heaven.
Yet, this promise begins here on earth as we enter into God’s family. So we can have this reality now.
Let us join this family and live as we were meant to live:
in deep connection with God and with others
in community and support
in love and in acceptance
in the embrace of warm and joyful relationships in Christ.
Isolation doesn’t have to be our reality and the sting of loneliness can fade forever because God has made a better way.
His name is Jesus.