Loneliness

“Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun: there is one alone, without companion; he has neither son, nor brother . . . This also is vanity and a grave misfortune” (Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 NKJV).

I have traveled often both with and without companions from the U.S. Thankfully, I have never had to travel in other countries completely by myself. Whether or not there are other Americans in the party, I always am accompanied by Christians native to the countries which I visit. I would never say that I could or would not go alone; however, I certainly prefer the fellowship of others whenever it is available.

Solomon discussed the advantages of companionship:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

Summarized briefly the wise King argues that companionship is beneficial because:

  1. Two (or more) can accomplish more than one alone.
  2. If problems arise, there is help immediately available.
  3. A companion offers additional warmth (this may be emotional and/or spiritual as well as physical).
  4. Two or three are stronger than one and thus are able to provide greater security in threatening situations.

The New Testament speaks often of the blessing of Christian fellowship. As soon as the Church was established, disciples began to spend much time together (Acts 2:41-47). Their activities included having meals together, studying God’s word, praying, evangelizing, and doing good works for others. The key to this whole paragraph, however, is found in verse 44: “Now all who believed were together.” That is a statement not only of how things were in the first days of the Church but of how they should always be.

I have often been told by others, “I believe in God, but I don’t see any need for attending church.” The idea seems to be that one can read the Bible, pray, and maintain a personal relationship with God without any need for fellowship with other Christians. This concept is foreign to Scripture (See for example Hebrews 10:23-25).

In great contrast, we are commanded to love and prefer each other (Romans 12:10), to help one another (Galatians 6:1-10), and to seek the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). Jesus taught that we serve him as we serve people in need (Matthew 25:31-46). There is no provision for solitary relationships with God or with Christ. The very definition of Christianity involves fellowship with others: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Spiritual loneliness is a great threat to faith. The good news is that it is almost never necessary. Jesus provided his Church as a constant source of comfort, encouragement, and security. Every Christian is, immediately upon conversion, added to the Church. Its fellowship is a great and essential blessing to which every believer has access, and for which every believer has need. Let us never neglect such company.

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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