Friendshipwith God And One Anotheris Our Greatest Joy
The apostle John wrote to believers for a purpose: so that you too may have fellowship with us and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete . According to John, vertical fellowship with God + horizontal fellowship together = completed joy.
Our greatest joy is found in our fellowship with God and one another. This is why Jonathan Edwards said that friendship is the highest happiness of moral agents . According to the Bible, our chief happiness is in fellowship with the triune God and all who trust him.
The Bible gives us everything we need to recover a greater vision of true friendship. It shows us even our feeblest of efforts at forging friendships echo a more glorious realityevery friendship is a small and imperfect echo of the triune God, who made us in his image to enjoy friendship forever. Friendship didnt come from us it came from God. And he gives us everything we needthrough his word and his Spiritto cultivate it well, for the glory of God.
Drew Hunter is the teaching pastor at Zionsville Fellowship in Zionsville, Indiana. He previously served as a minister for young adults at Grace Church of DuPage and taught religious studies at College of DuPage. Drew and his wife, Christina, live in Zionsville, Indiana, and have four children.
Theres A Place For Solitude In All Our Lives
There are two ways we learn from the Bible. The first is how you would expect, through instructions. For example, were told, Be angry and do not sin do not let the sun go down on your anger Ephesians 4:32. This verse teaches us that 1) anger isnt automatically sin, 2) its something we have to be careful about, 3) were not supposed to stay angry at people. The Bible is filled with teaching like this to help us in our Christian lives.
A second way we learn from the Bible is by examples, both good and bad. The Bible is full of stories that tell us about how people succeeded and failed in various circumstances. As we read them we learn lessons that help us through life. There are some topics that the Bible doesnt instruct us about that we only learn about this way, such as seeking solitude. Some people reject the idea that solitude is important for Christians because theres no verse in the Bible that says to seek solitude. Those same people, however, dont reject the idea of going to church even though theres no verse that explicitly says to go to church.
The best way to learn about the value of solitude is from Jesus life. Were fortunate that the Bible records a number of times when Jesus separated himself from people. In looking through these we can see there were 6 different reasons why Jesus spent time alone.
Friendship Shows The World That We Belong To Jesus
When this lonely world of broken relationships sees churches filled with friendshipsimperfect friendships, to be sure, but relationships filled with true repentance and forgivenessthen they will know that something has come from above. They will see that our talk of Jesus as the friend of sinners is real.
Thats what Jesus said in John 13:35: by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. And later in this same conversation, Jesus defined this love for one another in terms of the mutual love of friends. He said, This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you . And how has he loved us? Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends . This is how we are to show the world that we are Jesus disciples: when we love one another as he loved us, namely, with sacrificial friendship.
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God Jesus And Loneliness
When we look at the life of Jesus we see many examples of being alone and loneliness.
Jesus was not afraid to be alone. He often withdrew to lonely places to pray.
It is good to have some moments of solitude so we can pray and reflect, but we should not isolate ourselves from others completely.
Jesus also knew the feelings of rejection.
They were prophesied in Isaiah 53:3: He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
And Jesus also prophesied in John 16:32. Indeed, an hour is coming, and has come, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
Jesus knew that when he was deserted by people he would still have God.
God is a God of relationship and community. That is evident in His very nature. He is the Trinity three in one God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
But God was not always with Jesus. As he hung on the cross he felt the separation from God for the first time.
And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni? which is translated, My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
This is the cry of a lonely person. Jesus can identify with our feelings of loneliness because he experienced it.
How To Pray A To Z For Your Community
Pray A to Z is a collection of 150 topics, 5 for each letter of the alphabet, that will help you focus and remember the needs in your community needs like: hunger, law enforcement, and nature care. A lot of the prayers are asking God for help, but each letter also contains prayers that offer praise to God. Why?
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Jesus Knows How It Feels To Be Alone
Jesus came to earth and lived like we lived. He went through many of the same experiences & feelings weve had. He was publicly rejected and abandoned by his friends. At one point, Jesus asked His friends to pray for Him in a time of distress, and do you know what they did? They fell asleep! Imagine how alone He felt in that moment.
Jesus has been alone. He knows what you are going through, and He is with you in every moment, ready to comfort you.
Signs Of Feeling Alone
We all feel lonely at times but feeling disconnected from others for long periods of time can have serious side effects.
Boredom, depression, feeling excessively tired or just numb are all symptoms of feeling alone.
It doesnt matter if you are married or single, you can still feel alone.
It doesnt matter if you have children or not. Loneliness can happen to anyone.
Take A Break From The Chaos
Executive Editor, desiringGod.org
Its surprising how loud silence can be. Especially when youre not used to it.
Thats my experience each winter, sitting there in the deer stand, the only manmade structure in sight. I am alone in the woods, it is silent but for the whipping of the frigid Minnesota wind and my soul is decompressing from months on end in the urban jungle. Body and soul find fresh air there that is hard to come by in the big city.
I want you to join me. Not in the stand but in some silent, occasional solitude of your own. You need a break from the chaos, from the noise and the crowds, more than you may think at first. You need the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude.
Why Do We Avoid Solitude
The simplest and most common reason we avoid being alone with God is that solitude forces us to face everything in our lives head-on. This internal confrontation is often why solitude is one of the most difficult spiritual disciplines. Yet, without time alone with God, the aspects of our lives that need the most work often go ignored or unseen. Others also keep us from solitude. There are all kinds of pressure to be social and “get out there” and experience life. We’re often discouraged from spending time alone because to others we’re not taking advantage of the life God gave us. However, God also wants us to spend time knowing ourselves, too.
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What Jesus Said About The Importance Of Solitude
Six examples from the Bible about finding perspective and power from spending some time alone
by Bob HostetlerPosted in Stories of Faith, Jan 21, 2021
In recent months, some of us have led more solitary lives than wed like. But enforced seclusion doesnt necessarily have the same benefits as intentional solitude. Seclusion can be unnerving solitude, rightly done, can be energizing and empowering.
The words and life of Jesus, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth , show us at least six things about the power of solitude:
1) Solitude brings rewards.Jesus told His followers, But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you .
This doesnt mean that we should avoid public prayer entirely, but that the greatest rewards belong to the person who seeks and spends time alone with the Father.
Jesus said more about solitude than we see in His recorded words, because His actions speak at least as loudly on the subject. His example underscores the place solitude played in His life. . . and suggests the place it should have in ours.
2) Solitude is a worthy priority.Marks Gospel says, Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed .
Bible Verses About Solitude
Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.
Behold, I would wander far away,I would lodge in the wilderness. Selah.
Oh that I had in the desertA wayfarers lodging place That I might leave my peopleAnd go from them!For all of them are adulterers,An assembly of treacherous men.
The word of the Lord came to him, saying,Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.read more.So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook.
The apostles *gathered together with Jesus and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught.And He *said to them, Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while. They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.
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Bible Verses On Solitude And Silence
Solitude is one of the most important disciplines for the spiritual life, especially for pastors and leaders who need help unhooking from ministry stress to experience God restoring their souls. There are many Bible verses on solitude to guide us in this practice.
Kristi and I regularly practice solitude and silence and we encourage pastors, pastors wives, and other ministry leaders also to do this. Our five-day Soul Shepherding Institute Retreats for pastors and leaders feature extended hours for solitude and silence with Jesus.
Understanding Solitude and Silence
Solitude is for being alone with God. It is completed by silence. Theres much to be said about solitude, but whats most important is that it is a way to do nothing. Yes, do nothing. Dont try to be productive even in Bible study! Solitude and silence is an opportunity to focus on your Intimacy with Jesus, to unhook from your daily responsibilities and the people you interact with, in order to attend to the Lord alone. In solitude we dont try to make anything happen. We just bring our naked self to the Lord to be with him.
Solitude is the creation of an open, empty space in our lives by purposely abstaining from interaction with other human beings, so that, freed from competing loyalties, we can be found by God .
Some Bible Verses on Solitude and Silence
Here are some Bible verses on solitude and silence that weve found especially helpful.
Solitude is Important for Spiritual Growth
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Learning From The Solitude Of Jesus
Recently, I took a walk through the woods behind our home. The outdoor temperature was above the freezing mark, so I expected to see other eager souls outside embracing the fresh air. But, the trail was abnormally empty and quiet, except for a few squirrels playing tag and a distant conversation echoing between two owls.
As my boots plowed a trail through the freshly fallen snow, the true solitude of the moment struck me. I often go for walks alone, but I usually greet other people on the path. Finding solitude at home is also challenging because of habits and chores. Things like social media, my cell phone, television, music, and to-do lists swiftly distract me from time alone.
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The Spiritual Practice Of Silence Stillness And Solitude
In our loud world, it can be hard to hear God. Silence, stillness, and solitude all are tools that we can use to create a space in which to hear God.
Silence and stillness help us listen to what is going on outside of us. They force us to listen and observe. They give us a chance to see what is going on around us, and to see what God is doing around us.
Silence and Stillness also help us to listen to what is going on inside of us. It can be easy to feel rushed in prayer.
We often do not have a lot of time. Usually, our minds are filled with needs and requests.
Stillness and silence can help us to listen in our hearts as well. They can help us settle enough to listen deeply to God in prayer.
The gift of the discipline of silence and stillness is that we connect with God for who we are, not what we do. We often rush and rush trying to earn the approval of God and others, yet we cannot earn our salvation.
We do not earn Gods love. When we sit in silence and stillness with God, we are freed to bask in His presence of beloved children.
Pull out your calendar and find some time to devote to silence. Perhaps it a day where you will be by yourself.
Maybe it is just an afternoon at the library. Find a space of time to make a deeper connection with God!
Good Reasons To Visit A Grave
You are not sinning by visiting a grave. It can actually be good for your heart and mind, as long as you are doing it for the right reasons.
Its okay to visit a grave to remember your loved one and meditate on the time you spent together. You can also take that time to express your love and respect for them.
Its also alright to weep and mourn at the grave. God knows how much it hurts.
For some people, a grave provides the solitude and space they need to weep and pour out their pent up emotions. This can help with healing.
A grave visit is also a somber reminder of our own mortality, as well as a hopeful reminder that well meet our loved ones again.
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Other Examples Of Loneliness In The Bible
Psalm 22 brings us to another example of loneliness in the Bible. David also knew what it was to be rejected and alone and often brought his thoughts to God in the psalms:
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am alone and afflicted. The distresses of my heart increase bring me out of my sufferings. Psalm 25:16-17
Look to the right and see: no one stands up for me there is no refuge for me no one cares about me. Psalm 142:4
Do not hide your face from me do not turn your servant away in anger. You have been my helper do not leave me or abandon me, God of my salvation. Even if my father and mother abandon me,the Lord cares for me. Psalm 27:9-10
In Psalm 38 David speaks of his loneliness due to sin: My loved ones and friends stand back from my affliction, and my relatives stand at a distance and at the end of the psalm he cries out for God to not abandon him too: Lord, do not abandon me my God, do not be far from me. Hurry to help me, my Lord, my salvation. .
In the New Testament we see that Paul also talks of God standing by him when others desert him.
At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that I might fully preach the word and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lions mouth. 2 Timothy 4:16-17
Complete the form below to download this list of verses to help you when you are feeling lonely.