Mean Old World

 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” —Eph. 2:19-22.

“This is a mean old world to live in all by yourself,” says the great soul singer Sam Cooke.

Each day we see this reality when we hear stories of people who give up due to loneliness or disconnection. We know that during the most vulnerable times in our lives, we especially need to hear comforting voices and see the faces of brothers and sisters in Christ who are there for us.

The song that Sam Cooke recorded in the early 1960s is not as much about the state of the world—which we know has its problems. Its focus is upon the “all by yourself” aspect.

The song recognizes what we all know: when we isolate ourselves or feel isolated for any reason, the dark world around us seems darker and lonelier!

The discouraging moments of life become exponentially more discouraging when we are alone.

Thankfully, even from the very beginning, God recognizes the need for community (see Gen. 2:19). God creates Adam and Eve “in His own image” (Gen. 1:26-27), because community is at the heart of what it means to be created in God’s image.

For Christians, the Community of Faith (the Church) is not an optional add-on to the Christian life. It is essential for us if we are to become what we have been created to be. In the context of the people of God, this “mean old world” becomes a place of mission and of redemptive possibilities. When we walk with one another through this world’s ups and downs, we are better able to “endure all things” and to be “more than conquerors through Him who first loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

This week, can we be intentional about being supportive of one another in this “mean old world”? Can we allow our weekly gatherings to prepare us to engage the world with the love of Christ together?

We need each other. It’s nearly impossible to live faithfully in this world all by ourselves, but God has made us part of His family. Let us seek out the lonely and brokenhearted, and let us help one another to overcome the desperation that keeps us from what we’re created to be.

Prayer for the Week:

Almighty God, whose Son had nowhere to lay his head:
Grant that those who live alone may not be lonely in their
solitude, but that, following in His steps, they may find
fulfillment in loving you and their neighbors; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from the Book of Common Prayer)

Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.

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