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loneliness

Is Your Church a Place Where the Lonely Are Loved?

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The Art Of Grace
The Art Of Grace
Is Your Church a Place Where the Lonely Are Loved?
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In the 2018 western, Damsel, a country parson proposes to the woman whose husband he accidentally killed,

“I mean, look at this wasteland around us. How is anyone supposed to meet anyone out here, let alone someone you can trust, y’know? So badly, I miss having someone to love me. But even more so, I miss having someone to give my love to.”

Though set in the Wild West, circa 1870, Parson Henry’s longing is very contemporary.

Many people feel like the world is a wasteland, where it’s hard to meet anyone. People are lonely even though there have never been more of us living on this planet, and we’ve never been more connected. The problem is those screen-to-screen encounters don’t have the warmth of a face-to-face friendship, so millions of people still feel isolated and alone.

We’re desperate to have and to give love.

We are so desperate that we look for it in the worst places. We settle for toxic and abusive relationships, adulterous affairs, and meaningless encounters. That’s motivated by an unfulfilled desire to be loved.

And no wonder! God created you out of love, to be loved, and for you to love others.

The world knows about love—at least, a version of it. The world’s love is conditional and fleeting. You have to earn it. One wrong move and you’ll lose it. Hence, the world’s love breeds insecurity and even more loneliness.

What’s the alternative to a performance-based love? Listen to the apostle John:

We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

The good news is God loves you already. That’s not something you must attain. Before you did or accomplished anything, He loved you—and He loves you.

His love for you is unconditional because it’s not based on what you do but on who He is, and He is love.

How is that a gospel motivation? As Paul Zahl said, “Loving is born from being loved” (2000 Years of Amazing Grace, p. 7).

Instead of making demands, love inspires.

Instead of acting to attain love, you act out of the knowledge of already being loved.

Instead of acting out of a deep sense of insecurity, you act out of a restful sense of security.

When you’re filled with love, you naturally want to love others. Being in love is like being happy or hearing a funny joke—you want everyone else to enjoy it, too.

Think of your life like a cup. When you know that God already loves you, it’s as though God fills you with His love, which then overflows to the neighbors around you.

Churches are wringing their hands about being “relevant.” Well, in a lonely wasteland where it’s hard to meet anyone, love is hugely relevant.

Thought for the day: If you want to grow a Bible study, small group, or church, make it a place where the lonely are loved.

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