Isolation and Christianity are Incompatible
When my kids were younger I spent exactly half of my time yelling, “Be careful!” There are so many ways for kids to get hurt! (You don’t notice all the sharp corners and plunging cliffs and unforgiving concrete slabs until you have a toddler.) I wanted them to be careful because I would do anything to keep them from being hurt. (Ben can tell you stories about me actually lunging out of a deep sleep to catch the imaginary child who was falling off the bed…true story…) But after a while "Be careful" started to feel like bad advice. There are more important things in life. I want them to be brave and bold and strong and full of faith. I want them to walk with the Lord and follow His leading, and you know what? That might not always be safe but it is a worthy way to spend ones life.
When we moved into our current home, which has a climbing tree in the backyard, I had to make a decision. I have a fear of my kids falling (even in my sleep) and it is quite possible they could get hurt if they fell from a limb. They might even sustain lasting damage or even die! I want my children to be careful and safe, but you know what I decided? I'd rather raise kids who fall out of trees than kids who are scared to climb them.
I have been thinking about these things as I consider Covid and the new normal our world is faced with. We, along with the rest of the country, sheltered in place to help flatten the curve. We bought masks. We helped record virtual church services. We stopped having neighbors and friends and students in our home and I’m glad we did those things in the short term. When so little information was known, and our leaders were asking us to help, following these mandates seemed like the wise, loving and, yes, Christian thing to do.
But we cannot sustain this way of life. Isolation and Christianity are incompatible because isolation and humanity are incompatible. We know this...(just think of Tom Hanks and his pal Wilson!) As Christians we cannot accept social distance as our new normal because we cannot stay spiritually healthy in such a climate. Our Creator God, who knows what we need, commands us to gather together for worship, to practice hospitality, to break bread and care for each other’s needs. And beyond direct biblical mandates (which override government mandates) we must consider the costs of isolation. I would rather get Covid than spend a year (or more) being afraid of getting Covid and in the process teaching my children that attending church is optional and people are scary germ factories who need to be avoided and that we might somehow manipulate the pre-ordained number of our days with a cloth face mask. This is wrong on so many levels.
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Taking care of our physical health is good. Taking care of it at all costs is idolatry. We are being told that if we love people we will stay away from them, but is this truly the most loving gesture? There are other ways of showing love: smiling, conversing, reading facial cues to assess well-being. And all of these loving and beneficial interactions are nearly impossible to do while muzzled...I mean masked. When did we decide it is okay to prioritize physical health above everything else?..above mental and emotional and spiritual health? And do believers in other countries who face death threats while gathering in underground house churches hate their kids or grandparents for exposing them to such risk? Or do they just understand something we have forgotten? Some things are worth the risk.
My husband’s workplace just hosted a virtual meeting encouraging all employees to refrain from travel or visiting family for Thanksgiving. I’m thankful they encouraged that instead of mandating it – but I think the mandate is just around the corner. And what if the next thing they say is that Ben can’t attend church if he wants to stay employed because it’s not safe? What then?
We need each other. We need community and fellowship. We are commanded to love one another and sometimes this might look like isolating for a short season, but it cannot become a new/acceptable way of life. Some trees are worth climbing.
We are all going to die of something. In the meantime, we could live. Let's get on with it.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
2 Corinthians 5:1-10