Our society is big on “aloneness.” We don’t need anyone or anything. This is a one man show, and the audience is dispensable. What a paradox that those who are most alone damage so many with their sin.
Adultery, particularly for men, is often preceded by a period of isolation. Pastors, seek out the men cutting themselves off from fellowship and worship – they are in danger. For women, this isolation is often foisted upon them by uncaring husbands. They are left alone and seek out companionship. Pastors, watch out for abandoned women and find ways to care for them.
Liars and gossips are often lonely. They crave the intimacy of shared experience and find that creating a world of juice and lurid tale is inviting to other lonely souls. Of course when the sensationalism dies, so do the sensations of connection. When the scandal is widely known community breaks down and more loneliness is created. Pastors, keep your ears open and go to the source of the fires starting in the woods of the Church. Don’t just come with admonitions, but with community, showing the gossip their interconnectedness to those about whom they wag.
Murderers are often isolated. The bullied child and the shunned odd man out are left with an inner dialog of painful lies. They hear very clearly the father of lies, who was a murderer from the beginning, and unless someone interrupts that conversation it will end badly. Pastors, talk to the isolated people in your congregation and teach them to reach outside themselves. Teach others to see the lonely and to reach out to them.
Lastly pastors. Please don’t isolate yourself. All the above apply to you in spades. Your adulteries, your murders (killing comes in many forms), your unbridled tongue will do more damage to the body of Christ than any 10 of your parishioners.