EDITORIAL: Fellowship and the Gospel: The New Normal (Part 2)

So, what is sin? This is the culprit behind our universal experience of isolation, or as it was more commonly called prior to the pandemic — loneliness. From the moment sin entered our world we have experienced this, and it has become one of the most painful aspects of human life. Adam felt betrayed by Eve. Eve felt rejected by Adam. Abel felt bullied by his brother. Enoch must have felt he no longer fit into the mold of the world we live in. And the list of these experiences go on. It is also noteworthy that one of the most severe punishments our western society can inflict on someone is imprisonment in total isolation. Loneliness is punishment.

There are presently several ongoing controversies over vaccines and masks as ways to relate to the pandemic. Everyone seems to have the right solutions though several are complete opposites. Yet there is only one solution to the true global loneliness we have had for several thousand years. The only real cure for loneliness is friendship. Not the Facebook kind though. Or the Instagram, or Snapchat, or TikTok, or ... you get the idea. If you do not know what these things I’ve just listed are, chances are you have at least one true friend. But if you and I live in those virtual worlds, though connected to possibly hundreds of people, you and I are very likely very lonely.

True friendship has prerequisites. Not every relationship is a friendship, nor every acquaintance is a friend. So, what is a friend? How can I know I am in a genuine friendship? Whatever that is, that will become the cure for my loneliness; pandemic or no pandemic. As the saying goes, it takes one to know one, so let’s ask the One who claims to be all that a friend can be - Jesus. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Did you catch what a friend is? Is not to have someone lay down their lives for you; it’s you willingly laying down yours for theirs. The law of friendship is based on this principle; your attitude is not what you get out of the relationship, but what you will pour into it - all of yourself. And that is impossible for any and all of us.

Why impossible? Picture yourself wearing shorts, a thin t-shirt, and flip flops standing for 10 hours straight in front of windy Lake Superior during January of any given year. When the 10 hours are up, you look next to you and see someone dying from hypothermia. Would you be able to give that person some life-saving body heat? Well that’s the same with loneliness. Loneliness terrifies us because it implies we have a void already in us. An emptiness. So how can I pour myself into someone else when I’m empty? It would be more possible to give someone a warm hug after the Lake Superior experience than for you and I to pour out our lives on behalf of someone else.

So how can you and I experience the one cure for loneliness?

We will continue developing this idea on our next newsletter.