Overcoming Isolation

Isn’t it crazy. With all our devices—smart phones & plain old phones, iPads & computers—and all our means to stay connected—calling, texting, emailing, writing, Skype, FaceTime, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Pintrest—that we can still be so lonely. So isolated. Isn’t it crazy.

We are lonely people. We live within proximity but without presence. We have relationships without personal contact. We exercise familiarity without true feelings. 

Due to fear. Or busyness. Or pride. Or selfishness. Or pain. Or past. Or depression. Or psychosis. We live alone in a world of people. We live not truly knowing or being known.

We are naturally self-centered and tend to view the world through the filter of our own lives. But we were not designed to be isolated. God created us for relationship. With him and with others. God calls us to live for him and for others.

1 Peter 3:8-12 shows us how to overcome isolation. 

Be selfless—verse 8 says, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” What characteristics of selflessness are listed here? Exercising them will break isolation as you do good to others. 

Be forgiving—verse 9 states, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” Unforgiveness leads to bitterness, anger, enmity, and hatred. Forgiveness restores unity and breaks isolation. 

Be self-controlled—verse 10 quotes, “For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.’” How do you  control your speech? You might be able to control it sometimes by yourself, but God can change your heart and your speech will follow.

Be peace-making—verse 11 instructs, “They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” Where does true peace comes from? Peace overcomes isolation; it reconnects you with God and people. 

Be righteous—verse 12 reminds, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Where does my righteousness come from? Righteousness restores unity. It overcomes isolation.

If you are wondering how you become any of the five "be" statements above, then seek God first. Break your isolation from him. Through his love, by the Holy Spirit, he will work this character qualities within you.

Then put down your electronic device. Step away. Go look someone in the eye. And have a real conversation.

Weight Limit

"It doesn't take a theological degree to win someone for Christ. It takes love willing to build a bridge sufficient to bear the weight of the Gospel." - Clarence Gillett

A retired missionary and current friendship partner sharing the love of Jesus Christ with international students, Clarence knows what he is talking about. If you took a snapshot of Clarence, he'd look like your average American fella. But to meet him, observe him, and hear him speak you'd perceive much more.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience," states Colossians 3:12.

Had Clarence memorized that verse? Had he decided to make it the hallmark of his life? Or had he walked so closely with Jesus that the character of our Lord just shown through?

Clarence lives his words. Walks the talk. Living as a loving Christ follower. Sharing that love by his actions from his character.

Colossians 3 continues its challenge in verses 13-14, "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

Clarence made me think.

He should make you think, Christ follower.

Am I sharing the good news of new life in Jesus?

Am I loving others like Jesus as I share?

Are compassion and kindness traits I am known for?

Would my friends call me humble and gentle?

Am I patient?

Does my family know me as forbearing and forgiving?

And what about love. 

Do I love like Jesus?

Freely. Passionately. Winsomely.

It takes God-powered, other-centered love to build a bridge that will bear the weight of the Gospel.

The bridges I build will be limited by love I give.

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U.S. Astronauts began a risky spacewalk about two hours ago to repair & upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.  Among their maneuvers will be a camera upgrade. The old one allowed us never before seen views of space & will end up in the Smithsonian. The new one will look deeper into space & is the size of a baby grand piano.

The little boy inside me spoke up, "Wow! Wouldn't that be a cool thing to be doing this morning! Walking in space. Floating around. Seeing Earth like a glowing ball. Awesome!"
The grown man inside spoke next, "That took years of dedication & training to get there.  And even though those guys are weightless they are in those heavy, cumbersome suits.  And for each one guy out there working he actions are directed by countless many."  You've seen the space movies, right?  How many people watch monitors & give instructions & updates down here while a handful are up there?
The Christ-follower inside had the last word, "I can be weighed down & encumbered by the sins of this world, yet freed to weightless dependence as I confess to my Savior.  I am part of the Body of Christ, the church, & although we are many we seek our direction from only One, our Lord Jesus."  What needs confession today?  How is he directing me to follow?
Following Jesus.  A lifewalk.