It was once common for people to spend their entire lives within a few miles of where they were born.
Everyone knew everyone else in their small town. They spoke to one another, and the unkind gossiped. It was a no-frills life without a great deal of intellectual stimulation. Life was based on the hard work it took to survive and possibly to get ahead. Those who shirked their work were not pitied as unfortunate victims of society, but considered simply lazy. The actions you took and the consequences you suffered were your own fault, not society’s. Friendships were deep and the help people gave one another was really needed.
The Pain of Rejection
Those who broke the moral codes that ruled society were ostracized — they became outcasts, no longer respectable until somehow they could correct their violations. People would not meet their eyes or give them the time of day. It was as if they had died. This was the pain they had to endure for hurting others. Whether or not they had broken man’s written laws, they had broken the inner law written on everyone’s conscience. That law is older and truer and does not change like man’s laws do.
I’m Ok, You’re Ok
With the decline of small town community life, people became vastly mobile, dreaming of a better life in a better place. Many invested a quarter of their lives in school to prepare for leaving home. They were taught that nothing was absolute and solid, no one was sincere, and life was where the strong survive. People were no longer ostracized for divorce or immorality, not even for homosexuality. Every standard seemingly fell by the wayside.
But if those standards are really gone and people now accept each other instead of judging each other, then why is there so much loneliness? Isn’t that just the opposite of the friendship that genuine toleration should produce? Is anyone these days ostracized for premarital sex, adultery, greed, and lying? In the past, the isolation of one person stood out. Today, it is hard to see that any one person is shunned for his behavior because people are too alienated from one another to even notice. An entire society of isolated individuals is powerful testimony that the old standards of right and wrong have not changed. People still react to the pain of being used and they still feel shame about using others.
There is a consequence to our actions, and however much we are told that the guilt we feel is unreal, it is real. It is the consequence of sin. Yes, old fashioned sin. The full measure of sin is death. There is an experience of death in this life. You can look all around you and know that many are feeling its weight. Death is not nothingness. Death is the separation of spirit and body. When someone dies, his body is cast into the grave and his spirit waits in utter darkness, inescapably alone, with only the excuses and accusations of his conscience to keep him company. Death is a lot like modern cities, where people’s spirits are trapped in the quiet despair of alienation. Unable to escape over the self-made walls of mistrust and fear, many have lost hope of actually reaching out to another human being and finding a true friend.
Instead, each new person is a threat, an object of lust, someone to scorn or envy, or all of the above! Oh, but there are friends — you know, the groups of people walking down the streets laughing and talking together. They have been everywhere and you can tell, if you look in their eyes, they have gotten nowhere. The pain of broken relationships clouds everyone’s memories. The time spent with friends is etched on a background of loneliness. Nothing seems to do away with the grim secrets most people so obviously carry: “I’m not loved, there’s no one I can trust, there’s no one I love.”
Every lie, every cheat, every act of fornication, adultery, and sexual perversion make you untrustworthy and unable to trust others. Sin is a double-edged sword, severing the ties between you and others and ruining your own inner worth and dignity. It is a fatal process. It is the actual reason for every death on earth — except for one man’s death.
His name is Yahshua, the Messiah. He is the only one who did not die for His own sins. He never knew loneliness until He tasted death for our sake, taking on the full measure of the agony of death so that we might not. Many people say they know Him, but their lonely, separate lives betray them. He makes a home for the lonely. He would like to invite you in and restore your full dignity, the inner worth that you have in His eyes. You can be washed clean from your guilt and come to the end of your loneliness. In the new life He has made, every wrong, perverted, hurtful way can be removed from you. He promises to do this for all who cry out to Him. Everyone else has to go it alone. That is the truth about loneliness — it is a foretaste of death.