Loneliness. Is it happening in your church?
One of the ways Jehovah’s Witnesses gain converts is by showing an interest in them. They are willing to meet with you! They ask how you are doing! They take time to get to know you! They ask if you need anything! As I’ve met with them, I’ve seen this tactic firsthand.
Now I’m pretty settled in my faith as a Reformed Baptist. I know what the Bible says concerning the trinity and the way of salvation. However, about a week ago I turned to my husband and said, “I get it. I get why people are attracted to such a cult.” For despite my convictions, the tug of being “accepted” by others was a strong one. Five months postpartum, now a mom of not a handful of children, but two handfuls of children, sleep-deprived and lacking in adult conversation, I had been struggling with loneliness. We have a wonderful membership at our church, but some time had passed since anyone took the time to show concern and ask how I was doing. And so I heard the siren song of acceptance. Someone not as knowledgeable in doctrine, who might not have a godly husband or happy home life, someone who the church just assumed to be okay because she was there, could be sucked in and dashed against the rocks of heresy.
In God’s providence, I read this post addressing the topic of loneliness in the church. There seems to be a swath of souls struggling with loneliness, even within the household of God. So what are we to do about it?
As Christians, we need to be intentional about loving each other. We need to be praying that we would increase in our love for the members in our midst, and to show love to those who visit. We need to ask God to show us who we can talk to, and seek to invest in their life. Such outward motions may be intimidating, but concern for others helps us to take our eyes off of ourselves. There is a risk of being hurt, or having our efforts rebuffed. But we are to be obedient to Christ’s command to love one another all the time, not only when it is easy.
Romans 12:9 says “Let love be genuine.” Other translations say “Let love be without hypocrisy”, or “Let love be sincere”. The love we are to show one another is not selfish, only gravitating to those who best match our personalities. And this love is not fake, bombarding the recipient with lavish amounts of enthusiasm that isn’t felt. It is not done to get something from the other person, but is a demonstration of the love of Christ, who gave willingly and sacrificially.
As Christians who may be on the loneliness end, we need to ensure that our desires are not unreasonable. If we view someone who jokes with us and affirms us as the mark of someone who cares, we do a disservice to the serious and quiet individual who inquires about our week. We need to give the benefit of the doubt to those we perceive are slighting us. Also, people will not always know that we are lonely. We can’t expect them to know the inner workings of our heart. Only God knows that. Which brings me to my next point: we must go to Christ and find our rest in Him. Only He can give a true remedy for loneliness.
May our churches be such that none would be tempted to roam elsewhere due to the body’s indifference!