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THE LONELINESS OF A COLLEGE CAMPUS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, October 6, 2002


"And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:18).


The English poet John Milton said, "Loneliness is the first thing which God's eye named not good." Many authors in the twentieth century agreed with him when they spoke of the modern plague of loneliness. H. G. Wells, author of The Time Machine, said, "I am sixty-five years old, and I am lonely and have never found peace." Novelist Ernest Hemingway said, "I live in a vacuum that is as lonely as a radio tube when the batteries are dead and there is no current to plug into." In his play, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Eugene O'Neill said, "Life's only meaning is death." The theme of this play is man's existential loneliness. J. D. Salinger made a career out of writing stories and novels about the alienation and loneliness of young people in our culture.

H. G. Wells died a lonely, hopeless man. Ernest Hemingway committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a shotgun. The female lead in O'Neill's play was a hopeless addict, attempting to thwart her loneliness with drugs. J. D. Salinger became so obsessed with the loneliness of young people that he became a recluse, and has lived the life of a hermit for over forty years.

Loneliness is a major problem for young people today. You can feel lonely even when you are in a crowd. One website tells us that "Loneliness is a feeling of emptiness or hollowness inside you. You feel isolated or separated from the world, cut off from those you would like to have contact with" (www.counsel.ufl.edu/ selfhelp/dealingwith loneliness.asp). God made it very simple when He said:

"It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18).

But so many college-age young people feel lonely in our time. I will therefore give you three thoughts about loneliness this morning.

I. First, there are different kinds of loneliness.

The website tells us that. It says:

There are different kinds of loneliness and different degrees of loneliness. You might experience loneliness as a vague feeling that something is not right, a kind of minor emptiness. Or you might feel loneliness as a very intense deprivation and deep pain. One type of loneliness might be related to missing a specific individual because they have died or because they are so far away. Another type might involve feeling alone and out of contact with people, because you are actually physically isolated from people like you, might [happen] if you work alone on the night shift or are far off alone in a part of a building where people seldom go. You might even feel emotionally isolated [and lonely] when you are surrounded by people but are having difficulty reaching out to them (ibid.).

College students are particularly susceptible to loneliness, according to several surveys. The campus doesn't seem to draw people together into permanent relationships. Young people attending a university or college often feel like the whole world is passing them by, and no one understands them or cares about them. They have no one to turn to.

It is ironic that a civilization that has produced automobiles, airplanes, television, and has gone to the moon, doesn't have anything to offer young people to keep them from being lonely! Your parents come home from work exhausted, and flop down on the couch in front of the TV. They don't have time to talk to you, or to listen to you. Many of you come from broken homes. Children of divorce go through a special hell of loneliness. But all young people I talk to experience it.

One girl said, "Since I came to the city I've been terribly lonely. My neighbors never speak to me." A young man said, "I never seem to be able to make friends, because sooner or later those who seem to be friends leave me." Have you ever felt that way? God said,

"It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18).

And yet millions of young people are lonely. And I believe that you have experienced loneliness. I believe that loneliness is one of the main reasons so many young people commit suicide today. Did you know that suicide is the third greatest cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years old? Accidents are the number one cause. Homicide, or murder, is the second greatest cause. And suicide is number three! One young person commits suicide every two hours and six minutes, night and day, in the United States - about 84 a week, 340 a month, 4,000 a year. Think of it - 4,000 young people between 15 and 24 kill themselves every year. And psychologists tell us that the main reason they do it is because of loneliness. God was right when He said,

"It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18).

II. Second, you can contribute to your own loneliness.

That's right, you may be the one most responsible for causing your own loneliness. The website on loneliness correctly says,

Loneliness is a passive state. That is, it is maintained by our passively letting it continue and doing nothing to change it. We hope it will go away, eventually, [but] we do nothing but let it envelop us. Strangely, there are times when we might even embrace the feeling. Yet, embracing loneliness and sinking down into the feelings associated with it usually leads to a sense of depression and helplessness, which, in turn, leads to an even more passive state and more depression [and loneliness] (ibid.).

"Loneliness is a passive state. That is, it is maintained by letting it continue." That's exactly right. It means that you are going to be lonely unless you do something to change the situation!

Last Sunday morning I preached a sermon on Jacob's loneliness from Genesis 32:24. In the middle of the sermon a young man jumped to his feet and ran out of the church. The last thing he heard me say as he ran out of the service was, "You will always be lonely. You ran out of the church and you will always be lonely." And he will. You can't run away without being lonely. That's what Cain found out. God said to him,

"A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth"
   (Genesis 4:12).

The person who sins and runs away from the church will become a wandering, lonely person, just like Cain! And the Bible says,

"Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain"
   (Jude 11).

It's a terrible thing to wander through life alone, like Cain did - and like so many young people do today!

That's the reason we say: Why be lonely? Come home - to church! God said,

"It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18).

That's why God gave Adam a wife named Eve. And Adam's wife is a type of the church according to the Scofield Reference Bible. It says,

Eve, type of the Church as bride of Christ (note on Genesis 3:23).

That means that Adam's wife is an illustration or picture of the local church. God said,

"It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet [a helper suitable] for him" (Genesis 2:18).

And God gave him a companion and helper. And she is a picture, an illustration, of the local church. God put this church here to help you, and to cure your loneliness! This church is here to heal your loneliness!

"It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:18).

And the "help meet" that God gave to cure your loneliness is this church! We are here to help you overcome loneliness!

Don't contribute to your own loneliness by staying away from this church! Come back tonight. Come next Sunday! Come on Thursday night and on Saturday night! We've got something going on for young people several nights a week. Cure your own loneliness! Come home to church!

III. But, thirdly, you have a deeper loneliness.

It was the loneliness that Hemingway spoke about when he said,

I live in a vacuum that is as lonely as a radio tube when the batteries are dead and there is no current to plug into.

Aaron Yancy is reading one of Hemingway's stories for a college class he's taking.  It's called, "A Clean, Well Lighted Place."  It's about the existential loneliness of man.  Hemingway knew about that.  He was speaking of a gnawing cosmic loneliness for God.  He never overcame it.  A few years later he killed himself.  The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, "God is dead." He became an atheist. A few years later he went insane. He couldn't live in a world without God, without meaning, without forgiveness or hope. How about you?

You see, coming into this church, and coming here several times every week will cure your loneliness for friends. But what about your loneliness for God? One of the great tragedies of the twenty-first century is that so many young people don't really know God. And without God there is no hope!

Yes, I want you to come back here to church and make friends - but I also want you to find God.

"It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18).

You need God! Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee." The philosopher Blaise Pascal said that there is a God-shaped vacuum in our hearts.

But the Bible teaches that you are cut off from God by your sins. The Bible says,

"Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you…" (Isaiah 59:2).

There is a separation between you and God caused by your sin. Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden. Their sin separated them from God.

The Bible teaches that God is angry with you for your sins. And yet he loves you. God is angry with you for your sin, but at the same time God loves you. That's why Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the Cross. He died on that Cross to reconcile God to you. God cannot simply overlook your sin. He sent Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for your sins on the Cross, "that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:26). An angry God could only be propitiated through the Bleeding sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son of man!

The man Christ Jesus went to the Cross bearing your sins in His own body (cf. I Peter 2:24). When He died on the Cross a great earthquake caused the earth to shudder. The veil, a thick curtain covering the holy of holies in the Temple, was ripped in two. Christ's death on the Cross of Calvary made it possible for an angry God to "pass over" your sins and allow you into His holy presence. The Bible says,

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" (Hebrews 10:19).

You can come to God by having your sins cleansed in the Blood of Christ. You can go to Heaven by having your sins cleansed in the Blood of Christ. You can be reconciled to God, who is angry with you for your sins, by having your sins cleansed in the Blood of Christ.

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him" (Romans 5:8-9).

The Bible is right.

"It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18).

That's why God created the local church, typified by Eve. The church is here to help you in many ways. We are here to help cure your physical loneliness.

But your loneliness for God can only be cured through a crisis conversion. You must doubt yourself. You must be inwardly disturbed by your sin. You must be reconciled to God by wholeheartedly trusting Jesus Christ, the mediator between God and man (cf. I Timothy 2:5).

I will end this sermon by telling you about the conversion of a fifteen-year-old boy named Charles. He was the son of a pastor. He had been raised in a Christian home, but he was not converted. He was a good boy outwardly, but he was not saved. Then something happened to him.  He said, "All of a sudden, I met Moses, carrying in his hand the law of God, and as he looked at me, he seemed to search me through and through with his eyes of fire. He [told me to read] 'God's ten words' - the ten commandments - and as I read them they all seemed to join in accusing and condemning me in the sight of the thrice-holy-Jehovah." He had seen, in that experience, that he was a sinner in the sight of God and that no amount of "respectability" or goodness could save him. He went through a period of great distress. He tried to earn peace with God by his own efforts. He said, "Before I came to Christ, I said to myself, 'It surely cannot be that, if I believe in Jesus, just as I am, I shall be saved? I must feel something; I must do something.'" But it did not work. His efforts brought him no peace. "They were good for nothing…Oh, that working for salvation! What slavery it was!"

The first Sunday of the New Year came and it was cold and snowing heavily. Charles couldn't make it to his church, which was nine miles away. He turned down a little street and saw a small church building. Charles was fifteen years old. He entered the church.

The pastor did not come that morning, probably because of the heavy snowstorm. There were only a few people seated in the cold church. Charles describes what happened next. "At last a very thin looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of the sort, went up into the pulpit to preach…This man was really stupid. He [had] to stick closely to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text [of his sermon] was, 'Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.'" Charles said, "He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The poorly prepared speaker struggled along with his text. He said, 'Look unto me. Many [of] ye are lookin' to yourselves, but it's no use lookin' there. You'll never find comfort in yourselves.' Over and over he repeated the words, 'Look unto me!'" Then something remarkable happened. The speaker looked directly at Charles and said, "Young man, you look miserable, and you always will be miserable - miserable in life and miserable in death - if you don't obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved." Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted at the top of his lungs, "Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing else to do but look and live." Charles did look.  He looked to Christ.  He said, "I could have leaped, I could have danced; there was no expression, however fanatical, which would have been out of keeping with the joy of my spirit at that hour. I thought I could have [jumped] from my seat [and shouted] 'I am forgiven! I am forgiven!…A sinner saved by blood!'…I could have danced all the way home."

That was the conversion experience of Charles Spurgeon at 15 years of age. He went on to become the "prince of preachers," the greatest gospel preacher, next to Whitefield, that the world has ever known. May you experience such a conversion soon!


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Isaiah 59:1-2.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Acres of Diamonds."


THE OUTLINE OF

THE LONELINESS OF A COLLEGE CAMPUS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:18).

I.   There are different kinds of loneliness, Genesis 2:18.

II.  You can contribute to your own loneliness, Genesis 4:12;
Jude 11.

III. You have a deeper loneliness, Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:26;
I Peter 2:24; Hebrews 10:19; Romans 5:8-9; I Timothy 2:5.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."