"I have never known anyone…who was isolated, lonely, unconnected, had no deep relationships – yet had meaningful and joy-filled life." – John Ortberg.
We currently live in a world more connected with the world through the internet than ever before, and yet at the same time we are more isolated. Gone
are social friendship of people who would just drop over. We might be able to keep in touch with people overseas, and yet we seem to be unable
to communicate deeply and meaningfully with the people in front of us.
A Lifeline survey from 2016 found that 60% of the 3,100 respondents said they “often felt lonely” and 82.5% said they felt loneliness was increasing
in society. This is not just an issue for single people looking for love, but even couples reported high rates of loneliness.
The God-shaped hole concept states that every person has a void that can only be filled by God, but there is also another very real concept called
the Person-Shaped hole. In the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2, God creates - and it was good. But when God gets to the culmination of his
work, creating man God says that something was not good. In Genesis 2:18 God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” This problem is solved
by God creating Eve, and in their marriage. But it does more than affirming the marriage relationship. At its core, this is a statement that humanity
has not been created to be alone, but instead to be in relationship with God, and One Another. No personal achievements, or money can fill this
Into this void speaks the New Testament with one of the most recurring phrases in the New Testament, One Another. It occurs 100 times! We are called
to be in community with other people. One third of the one another commands deal with the church getting along in unity. Two key parts to that
attitude of unity are building one another up instead of pulling down and forgiveness. One third instructs Christians to love one another, and
around 15% of the commands stress an attitude of humility and deference to one another.
Hebrews 10 encourages us spur one another toward love and good deeds. Psalm 133 describes how “good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”.
And Jesus prayed in John 17 for “those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that they world may believe that you have sent me.”
The kind of connections we need are more than casual ones. Casual connections that are once off are not life giving, challenging, supporting or loving.
Casual connections can’t provide what Jesus dreams for us and what he died for. God has in mind deep connections with other believers. The church
in community within a diverse contest is a call to the lonely city of Chatswood around us that we have something that they deeply want and need,
community with God and with people.
At St Pauls we one another primarily through our Community Groups as we treasure Jesus together. Community Groups are the main place that we connect,
care, and grow with God and with one another. Our Community Groups help us to connect with God as we read his word and pray, knowing that we are
cared for by a loving and merciful Lord as we grow in Christ-likeness. Our Community Groups also help us to connect with one another as we treasure
Jesus together, have an opportunity to care and be cared for, as we grow in relationship with one another.
As people created in God’s image we have a deep need for being connected. At St Pauls we want to see all our people connected and care for in community