Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Doctrine of Lonely

So often in the Christian life, we’re encouraged and bolstered by the reality of relationships. Church IS community, the Kingdom of God IS family, relationship IS at the heart of God’s redemptive plan. No question whatsoever. And that’s a very good and comforting thing.

But another often overlooked and avoided component of the Christian life is The Doctrine of Lonely. That’s right, the very real occurrence of being alone in the middle of a crowd. You see this situation emerging as far back as Genesis, when Adam was alone in the midst of all the animals and beautiful creation God provided. Nonetheless he was found to be alone; the lone member of his species. And God took note and said this isn’t good.

There are many places in scripture where we can find men and women of faith, isolated because of hatred and mistreatment, war and famine, growth and discipline or just plain life circumstances. And for each, I’m sure those times were not pleasant, but they were necessary for God’s best to be developed in there lives and character.

Here’s my thought on The Doctrine of Lonely. Never in my entire Christian life have I heard a preacher make an appeal to the lost or the hopeful disciple, that included the phrase; “You will experience dark times of loneliness because of your decision to follow Christ or grow in grace.”

On the contrary, our hard sell usually includes language that tells people they are coming into the “family” or the “community”. They are entering into a “covenant” with other believers. They are beginning a “journey” with millions of other brothers and sisters; implying that you’ll have plenty of friends and family to help you along the way. Yet everyone WILL go through that lonely knothole of development.

“I’m so glad… I’m a part… of the family of God… I’ve been washed in the fountain… cleansed by His blood”. Sounds good and feels good, but too often is only a small part of the Christian life; if it’s to be lived according to God’s truth – no matter what.

Jesus was very clear about the costs we undertake as we say “yes” to life in the Kingdom. And one very prominent cost is times of being alone. Times of being cut off from the crowd or even family, for all the apparent wrong reasons, all the while God has a purpose for the isolation.

And what might that isolation or time of being alone produce in us? Well, it could produce remorse, resentment, anger, accusation, self-pity or even self-destruction, because being alone, especially in a crowd doesn’t feel very good. And most of us really want to avoid those feelings, but it’s inevitable, if we desire to follow and live for Jesus.

Taking a stand for the sake of Christ will produce division among people. Taking a stand for what is sane, wise and just plain right will produce division. Deciding that you are going to grow and change with God’s help will meet opposition from those less inclined.

Face it – the life of a true disciple of Jesus Christ is fraught with deep periods of loneliness. Why? Because when it’s all said and done, and you stand before Father God, to give an account for your life, you and you alone (that’s right alone) will answer. No blame, no excuses, no justification of behavior, just you answering questions from God.

And that my friends will be the loneliest moment of your very existence. You will have no one in that moment, but God. So I would suggest you begin today cultivating a relationship and the ability to be alone with just you and God. That’s right embrace The Doctrine of Lonely, because in this very important, yet often overlooked doctrine IS THE PATH TO GENUINE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

Remember, it’s easy to “follow” God when everyone else is on board, but what if they’re not? What if you are the only one in the group that genuinely desires that relationship with God and the righteousness therein? Are you more than willing? Are you more than able?

Will you be okay IF YOU HAVE TO GO IT ALONE? My suggestion to you is begin that examination right now, for sooner or later we all have to “fish or cut bait”. Sooner or later we have to decide, based upon more than just aggrandizing language like Peter. You know – “Oh Lord I’ll die for you even if no one else will”.

Be very careful what you say or pledge, because you WILL BE SIFTED by The Doctrine of Lonely. But take heart – you’re in good company.

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