Debbie and I were saddened, during our vacation, to learn of the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. It wasn’t many weeks ago that a young middle school student in north San Antonio likewise took his life.
While I didn’t know any of these people or their struggles personally, I know this: Hopelessness and loneliness almost always precede suicide.
Certainly mental illness is a valid factor-and may have played a role in some of these instances-but there’s something else that makes us, as Americans, potentially extra susceptible. The whirlwind of our lifestyles is marked by busy-ness and individualism. People can be inundated with shallow relationships via texting and social media, yet still be unknown at the level where hopelessness and loneliness reside. It’s that lonely-but-never-alone thing.
The answer isn’t an easy one and I don’t even think it’s going to be found in our slowing down. I do think, however, we’re going to need to reprioritize relationships over accomplishments-people over tasks.
One of the answers is for us to be the church. Not for us to merely come to “church” on Sundays, but to make developing meaningful relationships a priority. It’s what we do in our life groups.
The key difference between Sunday morning and a life group is that in a life group a person is known. When they’re known, they can be discipled. When they’re known, they can use their gifts to bless others. When they’re known they generally don’t get divorced, commit suicide or walk off the deep end in some other way. When they’re known, their family and other relationships are healthier. That’s the blessing and the power of Jesus through his church.
The stronger we are in our commitment to actually be the church, the greater the impact we will have in our community and the world and the more glory we’ll bring Jesus.
On the adventure with you,