Jesus’ ministry was one of relationships, friendship, connecting to people.
In Galatians, we learn that God has called us to LOVE one another. Not to focus on things (excessive entertainment, drunkenness, jealousy, anger, using other people sexually, or love of possessions).
We are becoming people who are connected to the greater world of social media and ignoring the building of real-life communities around us. We’re ‘addicted to distraction’ and longing for real community.
Have you ever felt really lonely?
Research demonstrates that loneliness is as physically dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and contributes to cognitive decline, including the more rapid advance of Alzheimer’s disease. “We’re literally dying of despair,” of the failure to “fill the hole millions of Americans feel in their lives.”
Persistent loneliness reduces average longevity more than twice as much a does heavy drinking and more than three times as much as obesity. I would add that the rise of suicide in youth and the elderly have to do, in part, with the lack of friendships and meaningful relationships.
Loneliness can move you to join a crabby group of people who are never satisfied with things around them or what is going on within you. We need to manage our feelings of being disconnected and make changes in our lifestyle so we can enjoy the fruits of God’s love.
How Do We Heal?
How do we reverse the trend of isolation and loneliness here in Wichita? In your home, church, work, on the streets?
We look at what Jesus called us to do – Love One Another as I have loved you:
Our God has always loved us as individuals and in the community of other believers. God knew that we needed healthy positive communities to give life meaning and purpose.
I have learned a few lessons about loneliness through working with people in poverty and folks who suffer from mental illness.
Actually, people who live in poverty value relationships. It’s their greatest asset. Having friends is crucial to survival.
Mental illness steals relationships and connections and forces people into isolation. It takes away your drive and drains away your happiness. Hopelessness creeps in.
At Breakthrough, we have developed an intentional community that was designed to combat loneliness and despair.
We say, “You are needed and wanted”
We work at building relationships.
We learn from setbacks and develop more skills through difficulty.
We encourage and focus on motivational coaching.
We establish rules that focus on kindness and mutual support.
If these rules can work for a community of people who are living with mental illness and overcoming the barriers of poverty, it will work in the church, schools and in neighborhoods.
It is time to develop new habits of mind and heart and new practices of being a part of a community.
At Breakthrough, we practice kindness every day and we struggle with all the humanness of being crabby, petty and overwhelmed. But we keep going and we find joy in God’s work, all the 4,000 people who come in for help, the 30 staff and the 100+ volunteers. We all work together in a caring community.
I think God is developing a big project for the church to help people become reconnected with others.
Here in Wichita, God is calling you to build up a community of caring people. To have church ministries that everyone can be a part of and everyone can feel wanted and needed.
Do you make an effort to show kindness wherever you go?
Let’s reverse the isolation trends that are all around by committing to these simple principles:
Connect with God on a daily basis
Allow God’s love to move you to be kind to others. Make an outreach call to someone you have not talked to in a while.
Let the love of God help you to build new connections and build your community here in Wichita.