Feeling lonely in a crowd is a phenomenon that even the most outgoing person can experience from time to time. However, if church is the crowd that you are feeling lonely in, you might want to consider why.
In the Gospel Taboo blog “When Church is a Lonely Place,” writer Rebekah Hannah says that feeling lonely in church is a red flag, indicating that changes must be made before sin creeps in. While it is not a sin to be lonely, the bitterness and ill feelings toward fellow church members that grows during times of loneliness is a sin.
Remember your loneliness is not their responsibility, it’s yours.
Though you may feel excluded, it is not fair to assume that the excluders are purposefully trying to hurt you. After all, we only know our side of the situation and do not know what other people are going through themselves. As Hannah writes, “We can’t know the motivations of others unless we ask. Making assumptions opens wide the door to sin–our sin, not theirs.”
Instead, assume positive intent of your peers, and approach them. We are commanded in scripture to care for one another. This includes everyone, even those who are feeling left out. Hannah says, “Just because you are new to a church or currently hurting doesn’t mean you can’t approach someone else. It probably means that you should.”
Recognize your loneliness as a chance to find refuge in the Lord.
It is easy to forget that times of loneliness are opportunities to draw closer to God. Pain is never wasted with God; hard times are those in which we are invited to seek out the One who loves us far beyond human ability.
Hannah writes, “If you aren’t allowing your feelings of isolation to draw you towards God, then they are likely drawing you towards Satan.”
If we are denied by men, it hurts. But ultimately we have the approval of a Savior who gave us everlasting life. “He’s done that for you–not because of your worthiness, but because of His incredible goodness and mercy. It’s done. The approval you have through Christ’s life given in your place dulls the longing for the approval of men,” Hannah says.
“We were created for a world in which we would have continuous, intimate connection with our Creator and with others,” Neffinger writes. “And although we will not attain that perfect communion with God in this lifetime, God is still there in our loneliness.”
A word to the comfortable:
If you feel at home in church, it is your responsibility to seek out those who are excluded. Hannah points out that Jesus ministered to everyone, rich and poor, attractive and unattractive. We are called to do the same. Invite everyone to experience the family of God. It is truly the place where we are welcomed by Jesus with open arms.
Carrie Dedrick is the Family Editor for Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: December 11, 2015