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Friendship With Our Maker

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Lesson 9 of 32
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The Lie of Loneliness


The Lie of Loneliness

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

“The Lie of Loneliness”. That might be good to use as a title, “The Lie of Loneliness”. I think many of us have had this kind of feeling, “I’m my mother’s son”, or “I’m my father’s daughter — that’s where I came from — and now they’re either dead, or they’re far away from me. Here I am, kind of on my own. I know from what I read in the Bible and what others say, that somehow, I can be part of Jesus and therefore not quite be on my own. That seems to me the ideal. So, I ought now do everything possible that I can see and that the Bible tells me and that others advise me. I ought to do everything I can to get into Jesus so that somehow, I will be part of somebody — or I will have someone who thinks about me so that I won’t feel lonely or feel that I’m on my own.”

I think maybe most of us have had those thoughts or those feelings at times. We know fine well ourselves that society certainly has those feelings. Most of the people in society try to exchange a father or a mother for a friend, and then a friend for a husband or a wife. So often, it then goes on to exchange the husband or the wife for the children. But whatever they try, it always ends up rather unsatisfying because either the husband dies, or the wife dies, or the children marry and they go, or the friend ceases to be as close to you as they used to be. So, most of the people in society end up continuing to feel pretty lonely.

I’m thinking even more of ourselves here. I think it’s possible to have that feeling that you are on your own and that if you can possibly get into Jesus, then you won’t any longer be on your own. What I’d like to share is that is NOT reality. That isn’t reality. I want to share that not so much from the point of view of me trying to kind of jolly you up, or make you feel better, or make myself feel better — “Oh, you’re not on your own.”

We used to joke and I’ve told you about it before: there was a minister that we knew in Ireland and he had three children. Two of them were little girls and the third was a little boy. The girls were maybe eight and six years old and the little boy was three. Of course, one night he couldn’t get to sleep as he was afraid of the dark. He wanted his sister to come in with him so he wouldn’t be so scared. And of course, she would come in and she would say, “David, you’re alright. God is with you. Jesus is with you.” Then of course she would kind of throw in for good measure, “And Mary is with you, and the angels are with you. You’re alright. Jesus is here.” And of course, David lifted up the bed clothes and said, “Get out, Jesus! Get out! I don’t want you. I want so and so.”

I think often we talk to each other and it seems as if we’re kind of jollying each other up: “I don’t want you to feel lonely anymore because God is really with you. You ought to remember this. We’re all with you.” That’s not what I’m trying to say. What I’m saying to myself and to you all is, from the best information in this book, it is a lie that we are on our own. I don’t want to say that it is a lie that we have been taught to believe. It is a lie that we have almost believed from the first moment we were conscious of thought — it is a lie that we are on our own. That is a lie. I’d just remind you why it is so plainly a lie. It is because you are “God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus. “ (Ephesians 2:10)

If you’re uncertain about that or you say, “Oh I know you’ve said that before,” or, “You’ve quoted that before” — I’d point out to you all the other verses that say not only, “You are the body of Christ”, but “You are Christ here on earth and you’re individually members of him.” In other words, you’re not just generally the body of Christ with all the others that are the body of Christ, but

you, yourself, are an individual part of Jesus. I’d just remind you again what is said in the verse we read in Colossians, “Everything holds together in him. He was the very first-born of all creation.”

Then there is another piece that says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:3) The correct Greek translation is, “Everything that is was life in him.” In other words, each of us here was made in Jesus and are a part of Jesus from before the foundation of the world — from the very beginning. There are so many verses. Just as you think some of that over a little, look at that piece in Ephesians 1:4, “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ.”

Remember how I tried to put it in as simple terms as I could think, not just for your benefit but for my own, because I want to try and understand this clearly. You remember that I said that it seems from what you read in the Bible — I know this sounds incredible — that God at the same moment begot his son (and we talk about Jesus as his only begotten son). The best that the theologians have come up with in past centuries is that Jesus is eternally begotten of the Father. They put it that way because they say the Father is obviously the FIRST one. The Father is the beginning of everything. That’s part of why he is called the Father and presumably, part of why he is called the Creator and God, though in some sense, he is obviously preeminent.

Yet we cannot tell from our little finite temporal position, “Oh yes, but in this moment in eternity God begot his son.” We cannot do that because you can’t be talking about time and eternity that are contradictory things. You’re kind of saying there’s eternity — which is at least timelessness, though it seems more than that — and then at some point in eternity, God begot his son. So the theologians say, “Well you can’t say that. So all we can say is Jesus is eternally begotten by the Father. That is, at some place somewhere in eternity, which you and I cannot understand, God begot his only son Jesus.”

But here’s the truth from the Bible: that at that moment, he knew that his son, Jesus, would not only be his only begotten son and be divine like him and have the powers of knowing the future and the past as he did — (I know it sounds so wild and I’ve mentioned it before, but even as I say it, it stills seems wild to me — wild, I mean, in a sense of unbelievable) — but at that moment, God knew that his son also had to be a man. He also had to be a human being.

In a way, you can think of that because you know fine well God conceives of everything in a second. God doesn’t conceive of, “Oh, first I’ll make a world. Now, I’ll have to make people to put in it,” and, “Oh, now they’re going to maybe sin and so, I have to provide some way … what will I do? Yes, my son — here he is — I’ll send him.” Obviously God doesn’t think like that. God conceives of everything in a second. The same second or millisecond as God conceived of having his only begotten son — that same millisecond — he conceived of having others in his son who would be like himself. That same second he conceived that those people would have to have the same free will that he had and those people could reject and could destroy everything. They’d have to be remade and given another chance where they could see, “Oh we can go this way or we can go that way.” At the same moment, he conceived that the only way for that to happen would be for his son to have them all inside himself — for his son, in other words, to be the great human being and all of them as part of him. So in a deep way, away in the depths of eternity, God conceived of you and me as being part of his dear son. That’s why the Bible (Ephesians 1:4-5) says, “He destined us from before the foundation of the world to be his sons through Jesus Christ.” ( I mean his sons and daughters —

the Bible just used “sons” to mean children.)

From the very beginning, you and I were made by God, in his son, Jesus, to be part of himself. You can see what a lie it is that we have grown up with. I don’t know about you, but I did not think of myself that way. I did not think of myself as God’s child from before the foundation of the world. I thought of myself as, a little skitter-scatter part that was produced by an Irishman and woman in Belfast: “Here I am, a little bit of flotsam or jetsam, a little bit of wood floating on the ocean of life and the world — and oh, there’s a rock there called Jesus. If I can scramble on to that somehow, then at least I’ll be kind of a part of that rock.” But even then I tended to think, “Well, I’ll be kind of a part of him. I kind of will be adopted by his Father as a kind of second class citizen.” It’s a wonderful surprise for me to see that, no way was that the way it was — no way that all that is a ridiculous lie that the majority of the world has chosen to believe because they want to be independent. There is no independence.

There is no independence. There are no people outside Christ. There are people who think they’re outside Christ. There are people who think they’re independent. Part of the loneliness and desolation that comes upon them when they think that way is because there is no such thing as independence. There is no such thing as independent life outside Christ.

That independent life has been destroyed in Jesus from before the foundation of the world. The only real existence is in Christ, inside Christ. There are people who accept that, believe it, and live in it. There are others who still pretend that they aren’t in Christ and that they have an existence of their own and a right to live their own life, independent of whatever “being” or “force” produced them. That’s why they feel such loneliness because that doesn’t exist. That’s why they feel such darkness at times or such despair. It’s a reflection of the nothingness in which they think they can live.

What has come home to me is, “I’m not on my own. I am not on my own. I am not a little bit of humanity that is trying to link up somehow with the great eternal Being behind the universe. I am not a little piece of nothing that has nobody who really feels close to me. I am part of Jesus. I was made part of Jesus from the very beginning. I was created by God. I am “his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he’s prepared beforehand that I should walk in.” That’s who I am. I am the body of Christ. I am individually a member of Christ — that is, I am a part of Christ. I am a little nail on his little finger, or I am a little piece of skin in the palm of his hand, or I am a little cell inside him — not just a nothing but a living person because he’s a living person. I am a part of him, part of him, himself.”

I can see it just changes the whole way you think of yourself. You no longer think of yourself as “poor me”. I can see that in myself. I no longer think of myself as “poor me” that maybe has this disadvantage compared to other people or this advantage compared with other people. I’m no longer “poor me” who the last time I was close to anybody was at two-and-a-half years old when my mother cuddled me to her breast. I’m no longer “poor me” who is not close to anybody. My Lord, my Lord Jesus feels for part of his arm and I’m part of what he feels. I’m part of what he feels. He feels me. He feels me as part of him. He thinks of me as part of him. I belong to him and he belongs to me.

I think that that is reality. I can see such a difference in waking in the morning. I can see such a difference between, “Oh, here I am. The day’s ahead and I’ve this to do and that to do. I have this thing to face and that thing to face and this problem to solve. Yet Lord, you said, ‘Thou I’m

with you always’. Lord I know you’re with me and that’s a great help and encouragement. I must try to remember that more.” I can see the unreality of all that and the weakness of it and the diluted lukewarmness of it compared with reality: My eyes waken, “Savior, isn’t this a day! Lord, what are your thoughts? What do you want to do? What have we to do? What do you want to do? The good works that you’ve prepared beforehand that I’ve to walk in — Lord Jesus, let’s go!”

Somehow, immediately the Savior’s heart rises within you and begins to lift you up with his attitude to his Father. Suddenly, you’re in a big world. Suddenly, you feel a big world developing inside you and opening out. Suddenly, it’s no longer this pokey little creature that is on its own trying to grab at Jesus to kind of get some feeling that somebody’s with me. Suddenly, the center of your heart is not about you at all. It’s about him and with him. It’s about all of the world and all of the Father and all of heaven. Somehow everything floods into your heart and life lifts and is bright. There’s a total difference.

I can see that loneliness is a lie. It is a lie. The despair, the fear and the anxiety of loneliness is there because loneliness is a lie. There is no such thing as loneliness. There is no life outside Jesus. The Bible says, “Because he lives, I live also.” And if Jesus doesn’t live, I don’t live. Even those who feel lonely feel lonely because they believe that they’re on their own. They’re NOT on their own. The Lord Jesus, of whom they are a part, still feels they are part of him. Part of the strain that they feel comes from the fact that they are at loggerheads with reality. They are in controversy with God, with Jesus himself. That’s part of the strain and stress that they feel.

This morning at breakfast, we were talking about the Italian idea of family (“famiglia”), or the Polish idea of famiglia or family, or the Irish idea of famiglia or family. We all have our versions of it and I can see that it’s a bitter sweet concept. “Blood family” is only God’s way of getting us born into the earth. “Blood family” is only a poor shadow of reality. Reality is that “in heaven there is no marriage or giving in marriage. Who are my brothers and sisters? Those who do the will of my Father. Who is my Father? Did you not know I would be about my Father’s business.” ‘But your father’s a carpenter.’ “No. My Father is the Creator of the universe.” That is our Father. That is our Father. Our dads were dear or are dear but they are only a shadow of reality. They themselves are sons. They themselves are sons. They themselves are part of Jesus and that is the reality.

In other words, when Jesus was born of his Father we came into existence. You’re right — we only appeared in time here in the earth in whatever year you were born or I was born. But the fact is that when Jesus came into existence, he came into existence as the Son of God and also as the “first-born” of all creation. As the “first” — and indeed the only human being — and all of us are part of him. So you can see why loneliness is such a lie.

Please, I’m not saying it to help you or to help me with my psychological life. I’m not saying it because I think, “Oh, don’t we all feel lonely at times?” I’m saying strongly that that is an utter and absolute lie. We are being downright unbelievers and we are living an unreality. I’m not saying, “Now listen. Let’s all have a little more faith or let’s zippity do-da, zippity yea. Let’s sing a little song and make ourselves feel happier.” Or, “Here’s a thought that will help you in your times of loneliness.” I say to myself and to you, we are downright living in unreality when we feel lonely at all because that’s the LAST thing we are. We are part of Jesus. We are a part of God’s only begotten son. He thinks of us that way. Jesus thinks of us that way. That is reality and we are close to the heart of the whole of reality because we are in the Son who is the apple of

our Father’s eye. That dear Savior loves us more tenderly and more personally than any of our earthly parents or our earthly relatives – more than our earthly friends can ever love us. Each morning when the sun comes up he is here ready to live his life here in this body using these arms, these hands, using these eyes and these ears — he wants me to enjoy the ride. That’s what my life is today.

I think you need to think it through for yourself. I’d remind you of Colossians 1:15, “He is the first-born of all creation.” I’d remind you of the verses in Ephesians 1 where “we are destined through Christ to be God’s sons from before the foundation of the world.” I’d remind you of John 1:3, “All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made.” I’d remind you of 1 Corinthians 12:27, “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” And dozens more verses that make it clear — John 15, “Abide in me and I in you. A branch cannot bear fruit neither can you unless you abide in me. Without me you can do nothing.”

All of these verses make it absolutely clear that reality is that when Jesus was born the only begotten of his Father, he was born also as the great human being. We all were created inside him so that he is, in a sense, our eternal Father and we belong to him. We are not on our own — in no way. If you say to me, “Well, how do you deal with loneliness?” It seems to me there’s only one way and that is to reject it outright as a downright lie, as unreality — and not yield to any self pity or to any of the tricks that Satan plays to get you to think that the way you’ve been thinking all your life is really right — and you are on your own. I think there’s only one attitude to take, that this is downright sin — but not just sin that I ought to pull myself up by the bootstraps and avoid — but this is unreality! This is not reality. This is not reality. “Lord, Savior, this is your life — let’s go.”