Loneliness is an issue for people of all ages, young and old, both within and outside of the church. We see loneliness all throughout the Bible: From Adam in the garden, who was truly alone without any friends or family, let alone a wife (Gen 2:18), to the loneliness of the Samaritan woman who tried to hide from others and her past by collecting water in the heat of the day (John 4:1-26). The Apostle Paul felt ‘orphaned’ being away from his Thessalonian brothers and sisters (1 Thess 2:17) and Jesus himself faced the ultimate loneliness of rejection on a Roman cross (Luke 23). Vaughan Roberts in his short book ‘True Friendship’ writes, “We are dependent creatures with a built in need to rely both on God and one another.” Whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, loud or shy, we all need each other. Adam might have enjoyed the company of dogs, ducks, and donkeys in the garden for a while, but he needed people!
By God’s grace, our church here in Wollongong and Corrimal is full of people young and old. There are six church services across two sites with countless ministries where hundreds have gathered and served for over 150 years. But with all those people, and all that serving, it is still possible for some of our church family to feel a bit lonely. In the wonderful letter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul reminds believers to ‘Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing’ (1 Thess 5:11). I think this is apt for you and me here in Wollongong. At St Michael’s each member is more than a friend or a pew buddy, but a brother and a sister in Christ. In many ways our church truly is a refuge for the lonely but let us make it so ‘more and more’ (1 Thess 4:11). Here are three encouragements:
- Don’t give up on church: The writer of Hebrews instructs us in 10:25
“Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Are you convinced that your church family needs you and that you need your church family? There are some valid reasons to miss church, but there are more great reasons to gather each week.
- Don’t give up on each other: Rosaria Butterfield writes,
“Those who live out radically ordinary hospitality see their homes not as theirs at all but as God’s gift to use for the furtherance of his kingdom. They open doors; they seek out the underprivileged. They know that the gospel comes with a house key.”
As regular ministries dry up over summer, who can you invite into your home, your after-church conversation, and your life?
- God won’t give up on you: Jesus offers these words of comfort in Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
While we deserve God’s wrath because of our sin, Jesus, who never once sinned, became lonely on the cross to bring us into relationship with the Father. Will you depend on Jesus, who alone gives perfect refuge for the lonely?
– Josh Keatley
Student Minister | 5pm & 7pm
Books for further reading:
- The Gospel Comes with A House Key – Rosaria Butterfield
- True Friendship – Vaughan Roberts
- 7 Myths About Singleness – Sam Allberry