Six weeks before he died, Elvis Presley was asked by a reporter, "Elvis, when you started playing music, you said you wanted three things in life: You wanted to be rich, you wanted to be famous, and you wanted to be happy. Are you happy, Elvis?" Elvis replied, "No. I'm as lonely as ___________ !" Rich. Famous. But lonely.
A Chicago woman died after jumping off the 14th floor of her apartment building. The note she left explained she took her own life because she was lonely. A reporter interviewed the woman's neighbor who said, "I wish I'd known she was lonesome. I'm lonesome myself." Here are two lonely people who lived next door to each other, yet never bothered to say "Hello."
Professor Norman Wright, in his booklet An Answer to Loneliness, quotes one lonely woman who said, "I hurt deep down in the pit of my stomach, my arms and my shoulders ache to be held tight . . . to be told that I am really loved for what I am." Deep within each of us is the hunger for contact, acceptance, support and belonging. Loneliness comes when these hungers are not fed.
Our society is a lonely society. Many people live under the dark shroud of loneliness. And loneliness has little to do with the number of people one might have around him. Some of the loneliest people in the world live in cities with populations reaching into the millions. In fact, even though Christians have found peace with God through Jesus Christ, many of them do not feel a sense of belonging. Many Christians live lonely and isolated lives.
A minister tells about making a call on an elderly member of his congregation. A neighbor had called and informed him that this dear lady seemed to be under great stress and in a confused state. After climbing three flights of stairs in the tenement house, the pastor knocked on the door. There was no answer. He knocked louder-- still no response. As he started to leave, he heard the sound of sobbing. He turned around, pushed open the unlocked door and followed the sound to a small dingy kitchen. There on the floor he saw the crumpled shape of this totally distraught woman. Between sobs she told her pastor, "No one really cares!" Because of God's church known as "The family of God" it is a travesty when any Christian has a protracted feeling of being left out . . . of not belonging. In God's family all belong.
When we trust Christ, God plants the Holy Spirit within each believer. That is God's major provision for the Christian. We have God's very presence in us. However, another provision nearly equally as strategic is the Church, the body of Christ. Just as the moon reflects the sun's light, Christians are to be reflectors of the Lord's grace and love to one another. The Christian cannot feel a sense of belonging . . . or grow spiritually apart from the ministry of the Church. Because of this, we need each other. We need to help each other feel that sense of belonging.
Howard Snyder in his book The Community of the King states:
"Spiritual growth occurs best in a caring community. There are spiritual truths I will never grasp and Christian standards I will never attain except as I share in community with the other believers--and this is God's plan. The Holy Spirit ministers to us, in large measure, through each other."
In his book, The Church: The Body of Christ, John MacArthur concurs with Snyder as he writes:
"No member of the body of Christ exists detached from the rest of the body, no more than your lungs can lie on the floor in the next room and keep you breathing. No one member can escape his responsibility toward all the other members."
The place where a sense of community or belonging is felt and ministry to one another is most apt to take place is in a small group ministry. This fall many opportunities for a small group experience are available. Home Fellowship groups, Adult Bible Fellowships, Young Married Couples, Young Mothers small group, Young Men's Roundtable, and Men's Bible study each provide opportunities for growth and community. I pray that you will seriously consider being a part of the "community" experience here at MVC.