Minister of Loneliness
Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 10–12; John 1:29–51
Scripture: Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. – Hebrews 13:1
Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 13:1–8 (NIV)
Many of the letters of the New Testament close with what is called a hortatory section. Hortatory means “to exhort; to encourage the reader to do something or act in a certain way.” This is what we have at the end of the letter to the Hebrews.
In rapid succession, the writer lists a number of things the reader is to do, and very few of them are connected. What’s unique about this list is that a reason is usually given for each instruction. For example, we are to show hospitality to strangers (v. 2), because we may be entertaining angels. We’re to keep the marriage bed pure (v. 4), because God will judge. And we’re to be content with what we have (v. 5), because God is with us. We’re not given instruction for instruction’s sake, but for our good.
Message: Following her husband’s death, Betsy has spent most days in her flat, watching television and boiling tea for one. She’s not alone in her loneliness. More than nine million Brits (15 percent of the population) say they often or always feel lonely, and Great Britain has appointed a minister of loneliness to find out why and how to help.
Some causes of loneliness are well known: We move too often to put down roots. We believe we can take care of ourselves, and we don’t have a reason to reach out. We’re separated by technology—each of us immersed in our own flickering screens.
I feel the dark edge of loneliness, and you may too. This is one reason we need fellow believers. Hebrews concludes its deep discussion of Jesus’s sacrifice by encouraging us to meet together continually (10:25). We belong to the family of God, so we’re to love “one another as brothers and sisters” and “show hospitality to strangers” (13:1–2). If we each made an effort, everyone would feel cared for.
Lonely people may not return our kindness, but this is no reason to give up. Jesus has promised to never leave nor forsake us (13:5), and we can use His friendship to fuel our love for others. Are you lonely? What ways can you find to serve the family of God? The friends you make in Jesus last forever, through this life and beyond.
Reflect & Pray
Who needs your friendship? How might you serve someone in your church or neighborhood this week?
The family of God is intended to be the answer to loneliness.