A couple hundred years ago people lived in remote isolation, farming land on open prairies. Travel and communication were slow and uncertain. Letters took weeks, if not months, to reach their destination. Responses were long delayed. A visit to town might take an entire weekend. Camp meetings lasted for a week or more.
Modern technology has changed all of that. Travel is rapid and relatively cheap. We can travel to the other side of the earth in a day. Communication is immediate and global. Email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype and cell phones connect us with family, friends and strangers. We can as easily communicate with someone in another corner of the same department store as we can someone on the other side of the earth.
Strangers stroll down grocery store aisles “talking to the cabbage.” Young girls jog along the street, their pony tails swinging in rhythm to their stride will they jabber away on their headset. Distracted motorists navigate through traffic, one hand on the wheel, another holding a cell phone to their ear. Text dings are commonplace.
You would think that loneliness would be something of the past in our social media world.
But a strange thing has happened. In spite of our technological connections, loneliness is epidemic. According to Social Media Week, “Despite being constantly connected, people are still feeling alone. So what gives? With the ability to keep in touch with all our loved ones, why are people lonelier than ever?”
The article went on to say, “The problem with social media is the fact that people only share the good things about their lives. This constant barrage of good news causes a vicious cycle in which people post the great things that are happening, which causes their friends to only share the good things that happen in order to keep up. This kills any sense of vulnerability, of genuine shared experiences that were so crucial to emotional closeness between friends.”
We need community, frequent face-to-face committed relationships with others. This is why we need church. But we need more than assembling to sing a few songs and listen to a preacher preach. We need honest and transparent friendships. We need to “bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2). We need a place to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15). We need trusted relationships where we can “confess our sins to one another and pray for one another so that we may be healed.” (James 5:16).
This is why many churches are creating “Life Groups” that meet in people’s homes, where they can share a meal, visit over the table and study the Bible.
God does not desire that any one should be alone. “A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely.”