For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. — Matthew 18:20 (NIV)
“Wolfgang Dircks, a divorced, disabled loner, was found deceased in his apartment in Bonn, Germany, in December 1998–-five years after he died. He was forty-three and died watching television. Neighbors didn’t notice his absence. His landlord came by after the bank account from which his rent was paid dried up. A TV schedule was still sitting on the lap of Dircks’s skeleton and was open to the page of December 5, 1993–-the apparent date of his death. The television had long since stopped in the on position, but the lights on his 1993 Christmas tree were still glowing.”
This eerie story comes from the May 12, 2023 The Word for You Today devotional entitled “Dealing With Loneliness” and it says a lot about our modern age. How come no neighbors or family noticed his five-year absence? And his landlord never reached out till the bank account ran dry?
And the site of this sad tale, Bonn, is no ordinary place. The hometown of Beethoven, Bonn is a city of history and culture. Located on the Rhine River, Bonn is a city of beauty and tourism. The capital of West Germany after WWII from 1949-1999, Bonn is a city of political power. However, none of that made any difference to Dircks, who died alone and seemingly unmissed and unmourned.
The Bible says we are hardwired for community. The Genesis account of Creation includes multiple references to “it was good.” However, sticking out like a sore thumb, the Creation account only claims one aspect was not good. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’” (Gen. 2:18 NIV). Thus, God brought Eve to Adam, thus creating the first marriage, family, and human community.
The April 27, 2023 The Word for You Today devotional quoted Harvard professor and author of Bowling Alone Robert Putman. “As a rough rule of thumb, if you don’t belong to any groups and then decide to join one, you cut your risk of dying over the next year in half.”
Knowing our needs since God made us, the Bible encourages us to get involved in a local community where we can and grow together: it’s called church. “But I can worship God at home, or on the golf course or at the lake, and I can watch church on TV” you might say.
Yes. However, there’s no “iron sharpens iron,” give-and-take fellowship when we’re in isolation.
The Bible commands, “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25 NIV).
The word for you today is, turn from isolation and get involved in community as if your life depended on it . . . because it does!