“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (I Thessalonians 2:8 NIV)
A study by sociologists at Duke and the University of Arizona released in the last decade revealed that one quarter of Americans had no one in whom to confide about personal problems. And the rest, on average, had no more than two people with whom they can talk about their personal issues.
The most striking thing about this study is what it did not say. The sociologists did not find that Americans lacked social contacts, and that has only increased exponentially in recent years. We are one of the most socially “connected” societies on earth with smart phones and the array of social media available to us, as well as being in contact with people daily at work, at school, and at church.
One would think that a society having so much connectedness would not be so lonely, but the reality is much different. It is possible to be in a room full of people and be lonely. It is possible to have a multitude of conversations and still feel unknown and disconnected. It is possible to have friends but feel friendless.
What is missing in much of American culture is what Paul gave to the Galatians. He shared with them his life. He opened himself up, made himself vulnerable. He did not put up a façade. How many of us feel we can do that? Fellowship, in the Greek, means “shared life.” How often, when we are having times of “fellowship,” do we really share our lives with one another, not just the things we want people to know, but what is really going on?
What a tremendous opportunity we have as followers of Jesus to show our culture the way out of loneliness, if we will just practice what is to be normative for Christians—to have fellowship with one another, sharing our lives in deep and intimate ways, to be known for who we really are and loved all the same. Our culture hungers for this because that is how God created all people—for deep fellowship with Him and one another.
Today, seek out someone with whom to share your life, not just for your sake, but theirs as well because it is a lonely world out there.
© Jim Musser 2017