In 1966 a song “Eleanor Rigby” was recorded by Paul McCartney of The Beatles. The song gave the band a shift to how people viewed them as just a young rockers to be taking more serious in their music. The song hit a reality with the lines “All the lonely people; Where do they all come from?; All the lonely people; Where do they all belong?”
We live in a world of 6 Billion people and almost 4 Billion live in North America. Our world has become a flat society where technology allows us to communicate with anyone from anywhere at anytime. Communication with others is instant. The availability of transportation and entertainment is unprecedented. Three-fourths of American people live in metropolitan cities. Yet, social research tells us that people are lonely.
The AARP came out with a recent study in their Nov/Dec 2010 issue. The study found that of people ages 45+, 35% are chronically lonely. That’s compared to 20% ten years ago. And surprisingly, it’s people in their 40’s and 50’s who experience loneliness the most. 43% of adults ages 45-49 are lonely, 41% of adults ages 50-59, 32% of adults ages 60-69, and 25% of those 70 and older. Even more, our number of friends is on the decline. In 2004 a quarter of the population had no one they could confide in or speak with in a crisis; this was up from 10% in 1985.
I am today 45 and I am lonely.
I posted up a status update on my face book today to say I am lonely. The solutions offered were strange (at least to me). I am told to be happy, I am told to reflect on God’s love. I am asked where my wife is.
Loneliness has nothing to do with being alone. You can be with hundreds of people but still be lonely. Sometimes loneliness comes not in the absence of plenty but in the giving up the one thing in the presence of abundance. The great A W Tozer spoke about having to give up her daughter to the mission field despite having many sons. He wrote about his struggles in a chapter called “The blessedness of possessing nothing” in the book “the Pursuit of God”.
Tozer writes about where the problem of loneliness began.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kindgom of heaven. – Matt. 5:3
Before the Lord God made man upon the earth He first prepared for him by creating a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In the Genesis account of the creation these are called simply “things.” They were made for man’s uses, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within him was God; without, a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him.
Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and “things” were allowed to enter. Within the human heart “things” have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.
This is not a mere metaphor, but an accurate analysis of our real spiritual trouble. There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets “things” with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns “my” and “mine” look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution”
I believe this started when Adam replaced from obtaining abundance from his walk with God with the so called “abundance” from knowing good and evil for himself: Obtaining from the created rather than from the Creator.
It was this fall that led to his “nakedness”. This loneliness. Amongst a kingdom of creatures and a woman who loved him. Amongst the presence of love Himself. Amongst abundance. Adam was lonely.
It is this loneliness that caused the Father to ask, “Where are you?”
Dear friends, I want you to see the heart of the Father, the Father’s question speaks of a heart that is breach of His union with man. The Father’s cry was a cry of loss NOT of judgment. “Where are you?”
Adam however responded “I was naked and I hid”. Nakedness begets loneliness. A sense of lack leading to a sense of emptiness.
God’s cry of “where are you?” was responded with “I hid”. I hid because I am naked became our cry.
This is where the Gospel comes in. Jesus God embodied flesh makes this cry, “Where are you?” He cries this perfectly both as God and man. He cries “where are you, O God” as man. As God, he cries “where are you “O naked man”, are you still hiding?”
Jesus died a man naked. A man lonely. A man possessed nothing. A man with nothing. He gave away his clothing, friends, clothes, dignity, favour, spirit and even His Father away. A man who was completely naked. However, in this nakedness, he was one with his Father. The words, “My God, My God was have thou forsaken me?” is followed by the sweetness of “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me.”
His nakedness reconciled man to God. His nakedness brought him to his Father. It was in this nakedness God the Father was reconciling Himself to Adam who hid because he was naked. Our nakedness thus should not cause us to be fearful of God anymore. As He cries to us, “Where are you?” Look unto your Saviour, your new man and say “I was naked, but I am here.”
I have always read this verse without much meaning until I understood the Gospel of Grace Joseph Prince preached.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
He spoke of Jonathan and David who exchanged clothes and how our heavenly Jonathan exchanged His heavenly robes of righteousness with our filthy rags of self righteousness and sin. Jesus garment was gambled and was not torn. It was won by a Gentile soldier. Psalms 22 speaks about Jesus when he died on the cross will declare righteousness to nation yet to be born. That nation is the new creation, neither Jew nor Gentile, neither male nor female. A new man in Christ.
In the story of the prodigal son, we read of the prodigal son being clothed with the same garment.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
I wanted you to see this. Bring forth the BEST robe. The best robe.
Dear friends, come to grace. Come to the Father who knows you are lonely. Come to the Father who knows your lack. Come to a Father, who wants to cloth you. Come to a Father who wants to cloth you with BEST robe. Come.
Do you feel the pressures of life stressing you out? Do you feel after years of struggle, you achieved nothing? Are you alone and someone you love have abandoned you? Do you feel that you are stripped of all you have? You are in good company.
Jesus died a naked man to answer Adam’s prayer ‘I hid because I am naked’. There is no need to hide anymore. You have been reconciled. Now be ye reconciled. Come home.