Inside the church, gossips, busybodies, and busy bodies make having authentic connections with one another nearly impossible; outside the church, the world puts the final nail in that coffin.
The world has adopted a sense of something called "relative truth," which boiled down to its basics means that what's true for you is true for you and what's true for me is true for me. We have been conditioned not to question what someone else says because that is "their" truth - it is real for them and to them and is foundational to their life. It has been taught by the culture as a way to respect one another and to enhance relationships.
But...it doesn't. Because what happens is that everyone is convinced that their truth is their truth and that it is unique to them. The world has even come out more strongly in recent years and said this - no one can understand your story the way that you do. No one has been through what you've been through in the way that you've been through it. Your story is yours alone, and you don't have to listen to anyone who wants to try to comment on it because they just don't understand. They can't understand.
So what we have is a whole bunch of persons walking around believing that no one else can understand them, that no one else knows what it's like to have had their experiences in life. They were bullied, and sure, others were probably bullied, but no one was bullied like they were, so they can't possibly understand. Maybe they've had an abortion, but they're convinced that the circumstances of their abortion are fundamentally different than the circumstances of any other abortion that has ever been performed in the history of humanity. (I use abortion, of course, because that's our current culture talking point; no other reason.) They've been wounded by the church and there are entire groups dedicated to those who have been wounded by the church, but all of the members come and sit next to one another instead of together because no one has been wounded by the church like they have been wounded by the church. They were diagnosed with cancer, injured in a car crash, nearly killed by Covid, discriminated against in the workplace...the list goes on and on.
What is happening is that the world is telling you that you are entirely unique, and when you are entirely unique, something very naturally happens - you become entirely alone.
You become isolated, disconnected from everyone else because "no one understands you." Because no one can relate. Because anyone who tries to, who tries to share their experience of a similar nature or who has wisdom to offer for the road you're walking, doesn't really understand. Their road was different than yours. There's no map for yours. There are no inns along the way. No road markers. No comforts.
It becomes almost an insult to someone in the world when you try to come alongside them in a real fashion, when you reach out an arm and say, "Hey, I understand that. I've been there." The gut reaction is to recoil and to shout, "No, you haven't! You don't understand! Nobody understands!" and then to be angry with the church for claiming otherwise.
This is why the world is upset with us, by the way - because we claim to have understanding about the human experience, having lived it, and the world outright rejects the notion that there is anything at all such as "human experience;" to the world, there is only individual experience.
Do you see how this happens, then? The world convinces you that you have your own unique truth. Then, it convinces you that you have your own unique story. Then, it convinces you that no one else can understand your story. Then, it convinces you to stop even trying to get anyone to understand your story because it's not worth the effort.
All of a sudden, you find yourself surrounded by an entire world of human beings, none of whom can possibly relate to you on any meaningful level.
And...you are lonely.
And there's no cure (in the world) for that.
The church has the cure, of course, but then, we're right back where we started - with the truth that too often, it's no better inside our walls than outside them. Which is why we're talking about this problem this week. It's so important.