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Loneliness

Woman looking out to sea

recent fascinating BBC article Is modern life making us lonely? suggests that 1 in 10 people in Great Britain are lonely and it is not just due to an ageing population. People from all walks of life across the western world are becoming lonely. According to Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the UK’s Mental Health Foundation although there is no hard historic data to show loneliness there is some sociological evidence that it is getting worse :
“We have data that suggests people's social networks have got smaller and families are not providing the same level of social context they may have done 50 years ago. It's not because they are bad or uncaring families, but it's to do with geographical distance, marriage breakdown, multiple caring responsibilities and longer working hours..”
Many point out that technology is one of the key drivers particularly among the young people. Social networking websites have particularly come under fire for reducing face-to-face contact and making people more isolated.  But according to McCulloch it is much more than that. He says, "There is a philosophical issue that arguably society is too materialistic and individualistic”.  So all roads them lead back to temple of non-theistic world view. We have become the "god" we worship. 

It appears that much of the western world is living in a paradox. In one way many people have more common shared experiences through the internet and countless clubs that answer to many perversions but at the same time they now feel alone. The pursuits of naturalism and individual betterment has not brought many true community, it has left us lonely and in despair.

Communally societies are increasing broken individually we are slaves of the forces around us. The impersonal relations have replaced the personal. Our whole lives have now become an expression of meaninglessness and loneliness. But in this great sadness, there's also great opportunity. In particular the church has an extraordinary opportunity to share with a dying western world how the gospel of Jesus Christ speaks to this loneliness. 

Not only does Jesus come to live in our hearts and deals with our loneliness, but Church is in a real and tangible way a foretaste of our future eternal communion in heaven. For in the church we exist in communion with one another and with the Holy Trinity. As St John said to the early church believes, "we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ...".

The gospel is always calling us not just to worship but to intimacy with God and one another. Dietrich Bonhoeffer expressed this truth beautifully when he said , "Where a people prays, there is the church, and where the church is, there is never loneliness!" That is a powerful answer to this age of loneliness.

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

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