Would you agree that we live in a very busy day and age? Increasingly we are bombarded with demands on our time and most of us are exhausted. And though most of our activities put us in places where we're surrounded by other people, we're probably the loneliest and most isolated we've ever been. We go to work alongside our co-workers ... we go to classrooms full of other students ... we sit at ball fields with parents of other kids ... we exercise in gyms with other folks ... we attend all sorts of meetings with people ... we eat in public restaurants ... we attend worship service at church ... etc. Though we're constantly around other people we tend to shy away from developing relationships with any of them. We try to remedy the problem by creating virtual relationships through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. but these aren't good substitutes for real relationships.
Isolation and loneliness has serious consequences. Studies are telling us many things about loneliness. The elderly who lack adequate social interaction are twice as likely to die prematurely. The increased mortality rate is about the same as that of smoking. Loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity. Social isolation impairs our immune function and increases inflammation (arthritis, heart disease, diabetes). Also, studies show that loneliness has doubled among adults since the 1980's.
Though loneliness may be increasing, it's not a new problem. Solomon addresses it in Ecclesiastes chapter 4. He notes some things that destroy friendships and lead to the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation. In addition he identifies some of the benefits of being in fellowship, friendship, community, and relationship with others. Please read Ecclesiastes 4 in preparation for this coming Sunday and ask the Lord to show you why you so desperately need to be active in a vibrant community of believers. Also, ask Him to identify those sinful things in your life that have contributed to your lack of involvement in fellowship.