In this episode
- Don’t forget to become a Theodio Premier Subscriber. Offer ends when 2020 comes to a close.
- The relevant audiobook segment
- My notes from the blog
- Episode blog post: Six comforts for the lonely Christian
- Prior episode posts: Christianity is too difficult; Christianity is so easy
- Podcast introduction: Yabo Obien
- Logo and marque: Jeff Lyons at Light & Story
- Original music: Makeup and Vanity Set
- Kindle version of Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices by John Hendryx at Monergism.com
- Text for Precious Remedies provided by GraceGems.org
Welcome back to the Theodio Podcast. I’m your host, Dan Kassis
We’re walking though the book Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks, one section at a time. Along with a segment of our original audio production of the book, we provide commentary and fresh insight, bringing this work of classic theology to life for you.
Last time we concluded a two-parter of sorts. Over those episodes we explored the equal but opposite errors of being discouraged that Christianity is too hard, and falling into laziness because life in Christ is just a walk in the park. If you’d like to catch up I’ll place links to the related blog posts in the show notes.
In this episode, we face a topic that is on a lot of minds and hearts these days. I published my blog post on loneliness almost three years ago. I could not have foreseen then how much we’d need it now. But I’ve been very blessed to note that as more people have found Theodio through the podcast, that post is gaining many new readers.
As part of our recent format change, I’ll share part of that post here after the audiobook segment.
Isolated, lonely lives
Lockdowns. Stay-at-home orders. Social distancing. No hugging your grandchildren or visiting your grandparents in the hospital. Sometimes I still can’t believe what 2020 has become. This invisible enemy has turned our world upside down and changed everything we used to know as normal. And ironically, as we do our best to love our neighbors by not transmitting a virus to them, we have lost so much of what it means to be neighborly.
A firm handshake. A warm hug. A tender embrace. An exultant high-five. Where did they go? When will they be back? How much longer will we have to wait?
Loneliness isn’t an exclusive experience to the pandemic, of course. But it has amplified it. The sad truth is that the church has sometimes been one of the loneliest places in the world. At least before the coronavirus changed everything, frantically over-scheduled families and disconnected singles were two enormous barriers to overcome if the church was live like the family it is.
It is sad and ironic that a place that is supposed to be warm, inviting, and sheltering can seem cold, distant, and harsh to an outsider. Even sadder, this is how church can feel to many members.
So, is it wrong to be a lonely Christian?
In, but not of
I visited New York City for the first time in fall 2016. As a classic introvert, the idea of encountering the largest metropolis in the US gave me some anxiety. How would I adapt to the crowded madness of Manhattan? How would I react to the subway, the teeming streets? Times Square?
Quite well, as it turned out.
New York ended up being one of my favorite vacations. I loved the energy and vitality, the aromas of international cuisine and chattering of unfamiliar languages. In the midst of the flowing crowds, I felt oddly at peace, safe, and untouched.
And yet, I was disconnected. I was in, but not part of, New York City.
We Christians can sometimes feel the same way in our churches. Amidst the energy and vitality of worship, as the Holy Spirit moves the body to praise and revere God, it’s easy to become isolated in our fears and uncertainties. Doctrinal and stylistic differences can widen the gaps even further. Unconfessed sin can push us adrift, out into a sea of separation.
That is exactly where our enemy wants us.
Predators seek the isolated, the unprotected. A single target loses the benefit of the group’s combined strength. The greatest exodus in our churches may not be in waves of division but believers self-removing from the body, one by one.
Thomas Brooks understands this difficult reality. And so he offers several remedies against this device of Satan, to help us see that we are not alone.
The Scripture passages Brooks shared at the end of this segment all speak of something that in my blog post I call “The Great Reversal.” As the character of Samwise Gamgee wished to the wizard Gandalf in The Return of the King, everything sad will come untrue. The lonely Christian will be no more.
That’s all for this episode. Next time we’re going to talk about one of modern Christianity’s favorite subjects: the culture war. But not in the way you may think. We hope you’ll be listening.