Genesis: It is not good for the man to be alone. (Genesis 2:18)

While this verse primarily finds its meaning in the creation of Eve and in turn the origin of marriage it also has further meaning as we trace the developing pages of Scripture. If Adam’s ‘aloneness’ is remedied through Eve and a partnership formed in marriage a further blessing of the creator becomes realized through the words of intention, “Be fruitful and increase in number…” (1:28). From Adam being a solitary person, in days to come he would be the first of ‘Many’. Note- the genealogies commencing from Genesis 5 are significant, but they do not include every individual nor their bloodlines- cf “After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.” (5:3f)

So while marriage is a creation normative we must also recognise those who remain ‘single’, that is, unmarried. Also widows and widowers; also the divorced who remain single. Jesus was unmarried; the Apostle Paul likewise. Paul speaks positively on the advantages of being unmarried (cf 1 Cor 7). To each and every one of us, we are all made in the image of God and we all have purpose and the same creation principle, “It is not good for Man to be alone” remains and applies. All Mankind is created to be relational both to God and to one another.

Once again we find what became outside the Garden of Eden. The ‘Goodness’ of God’s first intention for us became stained and tainted by sin. The first relationship affected was Adam and Eve (their shame in their nakedness also their blame passed on in their shared act of the first sin. Secondly, Cain killed his brother, Abel. Next, Lamech is found boasting, “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me.” (Gen 4:23).

The pattern only increases in Man ‘Living together’. Perhaps this instilled fear and the thought, ‘It is better to be alone than to be hurt’. Whatever, from the creation principle of, “It’s not good to be alone”, loneliness became another casualty and victim of the Fall. Is not loneliness a difficulty many still face today? Loneliness, we were made to be relational yet we can even be lonely in a crowd. To explore loneliness, one needs to be aware of the varied and acute circumstances of those who feel as such. Also, the degrees of loneliness felt. We must remain sensitive. So our discussion today is limited.  Let’s explore the Bible some more and discover our Creator’s plan. If Loneliness is an outcome of the Fall does God’s salvation also provide a remedy whereby a pathway towards meaningful relationships can be found? Can loneliness be transformed back towards creation’s intention of, ‘Man not being alone’? I think it can, but it also requires us to pay close attention to God’s word and faith to believe and to follow.

First of all, God calls us to repent of our sin, to believe and receive Christ. Secondly, in the same breath, he calls us to be part of his church. The isolated Christian not belonging to the church does not exist in the New Testament! To belong together as one body is expressed frequently and practically as, “The local church”- just as we are as WWMC.

The New Testament has a number of metaphors to describe the ‘Local church’, like the ‘Body of Christ’. Also notably as, ‘The bride of Christ’ and described in Ephesians 5:21-33. Here the Apostle Paul is describing the relationship of husband and wife and applying Genesis 2:24 and in the same instance he is also describing the relationship between Christ and his church: “This is a profound mystery (says Paul)- but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:30-32). So the church is likened to the most intimate of relationships. This is also an extension of Old Testament imagery cf Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 2:19f etc. The people of God, first Israel, then the church, describe deep relational ties and connectedness with God and relationships with each other. On being the church, we are simultaneously called into Christ and into his Body and as such we are not separated from each other in being, relational. God’s redemptive path out of loneliness is found in belonging together as the Church. We don’t always get it right but if this is God’s pathway does it not become a worthy objective that all find meaningful and appropriate relationships whereby loneliness is overcome? Pastoral Care which sensitizes so we don’t gravitate to our friendly groups all the time but keep an eye on drawing others in so they are not excluded.

A second reference point is found in Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Again with reference back to Genesis that man, in God’s first intention, is not meant to be alone. Jesus prays for all believers who were future tense, that they may be one. Unity, together in Christ and, in purpose. Think again of an extension of Adam and Eve becoming one in the relationship of marriage. Not the same but different but never the less, not being alone and separated from others. Here in his prayer, Jesus prays for such unity that is likened to the very unity of God as trinity, “….that they may be one as we are one- I in them and you in me-so that they may  be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23f) How we love one another; how we welcome one another; how we seek out the lonely and invite them in; how we…….that the world outside of our local church will see and we bear witness of Christ.

Loneliness, the world acknowledges the problem and seeks solutions. God has given us a redemptive pathway to follow that we may all, not, ‘Feel alone’. Meaningful relationships, someone to talk with and others to join in with…..The church, the local church is not a building nor a place we go to or attend. It is a people to belong to where Christ is the head. We got it so wrong when we left Eden, yet God has not forsaken us. It is still, “Not good for man to be alone.” The answer to Loneliness is found in its fullest sense in Christ and in turn, in and through his Body, the church.

How may this lead you into prayer today?

 HYMN: Blest be the Tie that Binds our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne we pour our ardent prayers;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares.
We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear;
and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.

by Fountainview Academy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3I4cO9CCSM)