In May 2023, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy reported an epidemic of loneliness and isolation among half the people of the United States. Young adults (19–29) had the highest rate, and those 65 and older had the lowest rate.
Murthy compared its negative health impact to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.1 He said that associated health risks include “cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and even premature death."2
Some suggested solutions to the problem of loneliness are alarming. People are turning to AI companionship like Replika and the AI app Eva AI. That doesn’t address loneliness’ root causes.
Murthy suggested that serving is an effective antidote to loneliness. It connects us with other people and reminds us that we have value. He said, “Ultimately, it comes down to one thing: Embrace love. It has the extraordinary capacity to heal and is the force we need to reach for each and every day of our lives. Love is the oldest medicine.”3 That is the correct solution, but for those who aren’t following Jesus, it’s perpetually unavailable—like toilet paper during the pandemic.
Murthy wrongly assumes humans can manufacture the love they need to dispel loneliness. They can’t. It’s not that they can love, aren’t applying themselves, and need to change their ways. Murthy is asking for premium love when the tank holds only regular.
It’s love of inferior quality, like a shirt that comes apart at its first washing. It’s conditional love. It fixes its gaze on some desirable or attractive traits. When they disappear, so does it.
God’s premium love thrives even amid squalid unattractiveness. Jesus’ love moved Him to die for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). Such supernatural love can solve the loneliness problem.
Jesus commanded us to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37–39). Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45). Murthy’s prescription of loving service is correct, but the pharmacy he sends us to doesn’t have it, never has, and never will.
We experience God’s love in and through His church. He supplies what He requires. Only supernatural love is adequate to power a life of loving service. The Holy Spirit generates that love (Galatians 5:22). Those who surrender control of their lives to the Holy Spirit dispense it.
Increasingly in the United States, people are turning their backs on God. Some rebels aren’t lonely because they have significant relational connections, but they are broken in other areas of their lives. Their human connections are no substitute for connection with God and His church.
Unhealthy churches can be lonely places too. I’ve visited churches where no one talked to me. But that isn’t God’s design. In healthy churches, loneliness disappears when neither dependence nor independence rules, but interdependence. Every part of the church needs every other part (1 Corinthians 12:21). Members love one another sacrificially as Jesus loves them (John 13:34–35). Loneliness evaporates in such an environment. #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freeevangelismresources #freechristianleadershipresources
See free spiritual growth resources for Christians at https://www.christiangrowthresources.com
God has empowered me to write “His Power for Your Weakness—260 Steps Toward Spiritual Strength.” It’s a free devotional discipleship resource. Pastors have used it in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia to lead people to Christ and teach the basics of Christianity to 2,699 people. I invite you to check it out. https://www.christiangrowthresources.com/his-power-for-your-weakness