The Atlantic reported less than one year ago that about 36 million people live alone in the United States, making up about 28% of US households.
The reasons for living alone can vary, but unless an individual has an avenue to connect with others, the consequences of isolation can be unhealthy physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
Scripture suggests that God did not intend people to be alone. God’s church is one link that connects people with one another.
C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite Christian authors, attended church despite being a critic. According to author Mark Batterson, “It’s not because he (Lewis) loved the songs. He thought they were ‘fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music.’ It’s not because he loved the sermons. He didn’t. Lewis went to church because he believed that if he didn’t, he would fall into something called solidary conceit. He knew we aren’t designed to make it on our own.” Nor can we reach our spiritual potential on our own.
According to Batterson, God puts people in our lives not just to overcome solidary conceit. God puts people in our lives to keep us humble and to draw out our spiritual potential.
Yet church attendance is falling. According to author Mike Frost, many people have either stopped attending church or left their church to join another one because they couldn’t make any friends there. Although most Christian congregations were hospitable and welcoming, he continues, in many cases people continued to feel isolated at church because “no one becomes your friend.”
If we are to be true followers of Christ, we cannot isolate ourselves from others. We cannot hold back. To the best of our abilities, we must reach out to others and learn how to be a good friend.
Perhaps the first step in learning to be a friend in Christ is realizing there is a difference between friendliness and friendship. Friendliness is important, but people also need the intimacy of friendship. With respect to friendship, Jesus demands that we love one another. (John 15:17-18)
Yet too many of us dilute love with inaction. We promote friendliness instead of friendship. And love in the absence of action is no love at all.
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