After weeks of staying at home, my soul feels like dry bones on an old corpse. The desert is my dwelling place and I am more parched than ever. I long for life, for connection, and for community.
The news reports tell me to be afraid, to stay at home, and to be socially distant. And so, like many Americans, I’m afraid, I stay at home, and I am socially distant. However, I wonder what psychological and spiritual toll social distancing will take. Is separation the answer to health and well being? We are in the midst of the greatest social experiment of our time. While Zoom is a wonderful tool, it can’t replace the presence and warmth of a human being. So I wonder, how much more social distancing can the souls of Americans take?
God Has Left the Building
As our churches lay empty and dormant, I wonder if God has left the building. We certainly have. An eerie picture comes to mind similar to Europe where abandoned and repurposed churches dot the countryside. Will the American church survive? Or, will a post-Christian movement begin in this country after COVID-19? At the same time, I wonder if we really know what the church is without the building. Do we know who we are without the safety of our walls?
The players in the war on the corona virus are the doctors, scientists, and infectious disease experts. They throw around acronyms and phrases like R naught (R0), which is the average number of people who will contract a contagious disease from one person with that disease, TTI (transfusion-transmissible infections), PPE (we all know what this means!), and shelter in place. the president and governors hold press conferences and give out executive orders. The health care workers, nurses and doctors, grocery store workers, mailmen and women, and delivery drivers continue their work tirelessly led by the voices of science and fear. And the rest of us wait, like sheep, clueless and dependent.
I wonder what the church’s position is in all of this? Mostly, I hear silence. Conformity for the most part, and silence. How are we as Christians supposed to view this global crisis? What is our role in what God is doing in the midst of it all? Could there be another voice, or should we just take what we see on the news as gospel?
The Gospel of Science and Statistics
Across the country people are dying alone in hospital beds. Is this ever okay? And with the isolation that is more deadly than any disease, the souls of the masses are dying at home.
In human history, crazier things have happened than a pandemic, just crack open the Bible. The Old Testament is full of stories of crazy things happening. In fact, He gave us His Word for such a time as this. Are we as Christians looking to this source of life and encouragement for hope and answers? Or, have we abandoned the Good Book for the media full of science, statistics, and fear.
The older I get, the more questions I have and the less answers I realize there are. One thing I do know, however, is that we need each other. And we need each other like we need food and water. The encouragement we give to one another gives our soul life. In community, we inspire others and they inspire us. We pour what spiritual strength and fire we have into one another in the name of Jesus. But, what happens if we no longer can?
Different, but the Same
I have been starved for Godly community and desperately longing to hear the voice of God anywhere, or from anyone. In the midst of talking with a friend recently, I felt a tinge of life in me, a drop of water in the desert. Something, somewhere in me was awakened. A small blip on the heart monitor of my life. Why? Because I heard a different voice, a God whisper, if you will. She reminded me that while everything has changed, nothing has changed. While it feels like our world is falling apart, God is the same and our future in Him is secure.
At the same time, Satan’s role in this world is also the same. Satan’s most effective strategy in taking down God’s people has always been to divide and conquer. With all of this social distancing, are we playing right into his hands? I don’t presume to know the answers, but people of faith need to be having these conversations. What does God want us to do in this pandemic? What would Jesus do about social distancing? Will we trust God’s voice over science and statistics? We need to be asking these questions lest we risk being led astray.
Christians are still the light of the world. I am concerned about the focus of the Christian community in our current reality. Are we any different than non Christians? I believe the Christian community is dangerously close to becoming of the world. We have been set apart. We must remember who we are and shine the light of Christ in this dark world.
You have been set apart as holy to the LORD your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure. Deuteronomy 14:2
In addition to keeping abreast of the situation, I am going to start listening to other voices, to Godly voices. I am going to pay attention to the words I use and the conversations I am having. Are they 100% about the virus and its consequences? I admit, like anyone, I have been consumed with this pandemic. Let’s return together to being consumed by an amazing God who adores us and is still on His throne.