Over the past 20 years, book after book has been published on the decline of social life in America. From Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone to Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together to Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic, many people have been trying to help us understand the problem.
It’s not only books. Magazines like The Atlantic are publishing articles and holding conferences on what’s been called “the loneliness epidemic.” And we can all see the isolating, dividing hostility of our politics.
My own experience as an American and pastor certainly confirms that there’s a problem. I’ve seen and heard many people express feelings of isolation, loneliness, lack of connection, and a fear of others.
Well, what does any of this have to do with the Bible? And what does the Bible have to do with any of this?
The Bible—and history—show that there is power in the gospel of Jesus Christ to create an alternate society to the always-fracturing societies of the world.
Augustine called this alternate society, “the city of God.” The city of God has always stood in contrast to the pagan, non-Christian societies of the world, which he called “the city of man.”
The Church, expressed in local churches all over the globe, is this alternate society and this alternate city. We’ll see a biblical picture of this on Sunday from Colossians 1:1–14.
The Church is the place where those whom the world separates come together in love under the shed blood of Jesus Christ. By His death on the cross, Jesus Christ has made “one new man” out of the divided peoples of the world (Ephesians 2:15).
The people the world cleaves in two become one when we cleave to the cross of Christ.
What’s our role in all this?
According to the Scripture we’ll look at this Sunday, our role is to trust Jesus, understand God’s will, set our hope in heaven, and love God’s people, despite differences the world would divide over (Colossians 1:3-5, 9).
Our role is faith that leads to hope that leads to love.
On Sunday, we’ll be reminded that God the Father “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).
He’s placed us in a new city, where our faith in Christ leads to hope, not in this world but in the next, which leads to loving community that the world cannot reproduce.
May God make faith, hope, and love bear fruit and increase among us at South Durham Church, for the good of Durham and beyond, to His glory.
I invite you to join me in taking 10-20 minutes to read through the book of Colossians before Sunday to help prepare your heart for worship. And then, come ready to hear about the powerful gospel that creates beautiful churches: people who are reconciled to God, reconciled to each other, and no longer, and never again, alone.
P.S.: One thing we’re doing to grow our faith, hope, and love this month is our church-wide camping retreat at Falls Lake. Have you registered yet?