Lately, interactions with others have felt more like a cold shoulder than a warm hug. Quarantine may be long gone but loneliness hangs around my soul like a morning fog.
These last 18 months have been hard on us all. Though we’ve regained a sense of normalcy, it feels like something has shifted at its core – society and relationships don’t feel the same anymore.
Perhaps this pandemic is just revealing what was there all along: that having friends and having community is not the same thing. That in the past we replaced meaningful connection with social gatherings and surface-level interactions. That the bonds we thought we had didn’t run very deep.
Being physically together yet emotionally empty can leave you feeling very lonely. That’s because loneliness is not a lack of company but a lack of connection. Being disconnected hurts so much because we were created to connect.
These days, I’m learning that hardships were intended to be lived and shared within community. But this hardship seems to be pulling people apart, not together.
If I’m honest, the world does not feel like a safe place right now. The divisiveness is further driving our disconnection. And the church does not seem to be helping.
The family of God is supposed to be a safe place in an unsafe world. Yet I’m seeing far too many believers turn on one another over cultural issues like masks, vaccines, and personal rights. Disagreement is now a legitimate reason for disrespect. The need to be vindicated is fueling arguments and strife. Getting offended is now grounds for ghosting or cutting another Christian out of one’s life.
In the name of healthy boundaries, I’m seeing boundaries being violated all over the place. Labeling, shaming, blaming, invalidating, pushing our views on others, making little room for differences, minimizing feelings, not accepting personal choices – these are characteristics of bad boundaries, not good ones.
When we elevate personal or social issues to a moral level, we make it about faith when it has nothing to do with Jesus.
It’s easy to get caught up on this runaway train, myself included – but where is this train heading?
If we bite and devour one another, will we not destroy each other? (Galatians 5:15) What kind of bride will Jesus come back to? How can the Good News be appealing if God’s family becomes abusive? How will believers endure suffering and persecution if our love for one another has grown cold (Matt 24:12)?
Jesus said the world will know we belong to Him by how we treat our faith family (John 13:35). We were meant to be together by design.
The Bible was written to a group of people, not an individual. Jesus calls us a body, a city on a hill, a flock, a church. The fruit of the Spirit is relational at its core and cannot be grown in a vacuum. Spiritual gifts are given to the individual for the growing maturity of the group.
In the Kingdom of God, it’s a “we, not me” mentality. We are meant to bear the image of God and represent His character to the world – collectively, as a group. A Christian is not meant to be a lone island. God intended for believers to operate like a family whose ground rules and values are centered in the very character of Christ. As believers, we are connected by something precious and holy – and what God has joined together, let no man tear apart.
In these divisive days, let’s not forget that we are on the same team. We are called – not to adopt the world’s way of operating – but to pattern our behavior after Christ (Romans 12:2). Responding and relating to one another like Jesus did should far outweigh any personal or political view. May we not allow our sin and disagreement to disconnect us from one another and ruin God’s reputation in this world.
God gave us His Spirit and a family to depend on for connection, comfort and support. May we use this time to stick together, not pull apart. To encourage, not bicker. To be thoughtful, not self-absorbed. To be that city on a hill shining God’s love and goodness to an increasingly dark world.
Because the world needs it.
We all need it.
- Are you feeling lonely or disconnected right now? Why might that be?
- What relationships are meaningful to you and why?
- How can you connect and encourage others this week?
- Are you investing in others or just reaping the benefits?
- How can you invite a lonely or disconnected person into your friend community?
- Who have you not reached out to in a while? Consider calling or inviting them out for coffee.
- Who have you been disgruntled with lately? How can you make amends?
- Who have you felt abandoned or attacked by lately? How can you make amends?
- What would it look like to be faithful to other believers right now?
- How have you been judgmental or critical of other believers lately?