Social Distancing, Physical Distancing, and the Church

As much of the world now goes into lockdown meaning that voluntary social distancing becomes social distancing through government order, I wanted us to pause our study through Job and consider the difference between social distancing and physical distancing.

Rather than term what we are all doing social distancing,

would it not be better to refer to this as physical distancing?

Social distancing means that we are isolated socially, not in touch with anybody, alone, feeling abandoned, and definitely not part of a loving and living body of people (1 Corinthians 12.12).

Physical distancing is simply just that; you don’t get too close to people.

Small difference in choice of words, HUGE difference in understanding, acceptance, and practice.

For the sake of others, let us practice willingly and obediently physical distancing. The church is still the church despite physical distance. Jesus said that on the bedrock truth that He is the Son of God, that He is Divine, that He is the Messiah, that He is Almighty God,

I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

Matthew 16.18b

During times of adversity and tribulation and trial, we will see if the church is really the church.

We will see if this body of people is self-supporting, self-sustaining, and self-supplicating (James 5.16).

We will see if this body of people is Kingdom focused, or kingdom focused (Matthew 6.24).

We will see if the church is filling its God-given mandate to make disciples (Matthew 28.19-20).

We will see if there is fruit and a root (James 2.14-26).

We will see if this called-out-of-the-world group of people really are fully regenerate born again believers part of the living body of Christ, or just a group of consumers who turn up to watch a religious TEDTalk once a week.

This is going sting for some, turn some away (John 6.60), but for those truly in the body this is going to be a defining period of time, a call to action, a call to take up arms, a call to show that yes, we are the church, we aren’t going anywhere, we are here for each other and for the world. 

Brother, sisters, let us practice physical distancing but not social distancing, and let us show the world that we are the church today, tomorrow, and every day.

Who Do I Follow?

Yesterday at Saar Fellowship we finished our study of the book of Hebrews and answered the question ‘Who do I follow?

As Christians, ultimately, we follow Jesus because He is greater than anything we’ve compared Him to in Hebrews;

Angels, prophets, the law, Moses, the tabernacle, the temple, 

our trials, temptations, tribulations, 

our pressures, persecutions, ourselves, 

He is greater than the earthly leaders in our lives, He is greater than anything; always was, always is, and always will be (13.8).

Who do I follow?

Yes, look to the leaders in your life, look to the leaders in your faith life and consider where their faith is taking them. Take confidence from seeing where their faith is taking them, the outcome of their faith, but even more than this, take confidence from what you know to be true about Jesus.

Look to who they follow – who is leading your leaders?

Godly leaders lead people to Jesus, and Godly leaders are following Jesus. 

We’ve come full circle with Hebrews, haven’t we? Many people are there to be followed, many people have spoken into your lives, but, it started with this truth, and we will end with this truth,

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Hebrews 1.1-2

Our Leader to follow, greater than anything the world has to offer, so sure, so steadfast, so true, so faithful, so loving, so much belonging, so much identity, so much greater than

If you are not following Jesus, there is no better time than right now.

In The Name Of…

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Often people forget the Bible wasn’t written in modern English, and that the Bible wasn’t written with verse numbers. Chapters were added in the thirteen century, and verses in the sixteenth century!

So, when Paul wrote this he didn’t put nice, neat, and handy dandy paragraphs and subheadings in. So if your Bible reads ‘Rules for Christian householdsʼ, or something similar, thatʼs not Paul! Do you know, you can buy a ‘Readerʼs Bibleʼ, where there are no verses, no paragraphs, no chapters, just the text?!

Anyway, if you read this in the KJV, for example, it just rolls on through so this exhortation about marriage and home life comes directly after Paul instructs us that whatever we do, we are to do it in the name of Jesus, like this,

…whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

These two exhortations then become, in the name of Jesus and giving thanks to God, wives submit to your husbandsin the name of Jesus and being thankful to God, husbands love your wives.

That is so much more powerful, right?

Love your wife in the name of Jesus.

Submit to your husband in the name of Jesus.

If we keep Jesus as number 1 then our marriage, home life, relationships, and everything about us will be as God intended it to be, and is there a better life to live than the life that God intended us to live? 

Listen & Obey

There is a scene in the movie Finding Nemo where his Dad is telling him to stay close and to stay with him, and Nemo neither listens nor obeys. The result is that Nemo is taken away from his Dad, his friends, his environment, everything he knows, and this could have all been avoided if he had listened and obeyed. 

Yesterday at Saar Fellowship we had an all-age service and read Hebrews 12.25-29,

25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

In the context of a family service, we talked about how the Bible teaches us that to listen and obey our parents is a good thing,

Ephesians 6.1Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.

Colossians 3.20 – Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord.

Here in Hebrews, they are being taught the same lesson – listen and obey.

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking.

For the Hebrews then, previously if they didn’t listen to and obey the law, there were consequences. Now we know that Jesus is much greater than the law, don’t we. So if there were consequences for not listening to the law, how much more should we listen to and obey Jesus?

Hebrews 12 finishes with a powerful message about God – 

He has given us a kingdom which cannot be shaken, something that can never be taken away from us.

He had spoken earlier to the Israelites at the giving of the Law through Moses. Those people had refused God’s message on earth and tried to do their own thing. Those that did not listen and obey and did not escape, like Nemo. 

For us now, God is still speaking, at many times in many ways He spoke before, now it is all through the person and work of Jesus, that is what we need to listen to and that is what we need to obey.

He is so much greater than Nemo’s Dad, isn’t He, so much greater than laws and rules and regs, all of Hebrews has shown us how much greater He is than anything ever! 

Surely we must listen and obey Him.

Refreshing – Philemon 1.20

Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

At first glance, there is nothing different or unusual about what Paul says here, is there. He has been writing to Philemon about being motivated by grace and grace in action, and begins his closure with this confident request, refresh my heart in Christ.

The funny thing is though, where we read heart, Paul actually used the word σπλάγχνον, which, most commonly, is translated as bowels or intestines. So, is Paul writing to Philemon to schedule a colonoscopy?

Literally, σπλάγχνον does mean bowels or intestines, but figuratively it carries the meaning of the place of deepest emotion in your body.

So, for us in 2020, we would say something like ‘He has a broken heart’, or, ‘My heart is just so full of love for her’, or something to that effect. Simply, when we describe the deepest emotion we could feel, we would connect it to the heart. Back in Paul’s day, the deepest emotions were thought to come from the deepest place inside you, in the same way you may hear something like ‘I feel it in the pit of my stomach’.

All this to say, Paul is talking about serious, deep rooted, from-the- inside-out refreshment, and this certainly doesn’t come from temporal or temporary sources.

In context, Paul is talking about receiving a runaway slave back as a brother, and he knows that just as Philemon came to a saving faith in Christ through Paul (v.19b), it appears that Onesimus did too (v.8-16). Paul knows we all share in one Lord, we all have one Saviour, and in Him there is no distinction.

So, the deep refreshment in Christ that Paul is looking for?

Seeing others live out the business of the Gospel.

Someone Paul has pointed to Christ is now doing the work of Christ; forgiving, restoring, fellowshipping, and encouraging. What deep refreshment this would bring to Paul.

Think on this today – Who can I refresh in the Lord by doing the work of the Gospel?

Be Bold

Our faith calls for us to be bold (Hebrews 10.19, 2 Timothy 1.7). So, what do we do with our boldness?

First, you take your boldness to church, to others. You exercise your boldness with others who are filled with the same boldness; with others, for others, to edify others, to equip others, to reach others.

We boldly look out for one another, everyone looks out for each other. You will be looked after when you are actively part of a community, and you can only look after people when you are actively involved. 

We boldly look past the past, we don’t dwell on it with rose tinted glasses. We see it for what it was, an attractive but empty promise that could never deliver. We boldly look past the past and boldly break away from it.

We boldly look to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, whose blood speaks a better word; forgiveness, reconciliation, acceptance, and salvation. We boldly live the life we were made to live, that we were redeemed to live, and that we were destined to live. 

Be bold enough to leave behind your former ways, and be bold enough to admit that, do you know what, I can’t do this alone

Be bold enough to repent and to come to Him and ask for forgiveness.

Be bold enough to submit your life to His Lordship.

Be bold enough to follow where He leads. 

Take your faith and be bold.


Taken from a message preached at Saar Fellowship through Hebrews 12.12-24. Listen to it – and all our messages – here!

Living In The Tension

Yesterday at Saar Fellowship our text was Hebrews 11.32-40, and we saw those who had victory over circumstance, and those who had victory in circumstance. This can leave us living in tension in between the already and the not yet, between feeling like things ought to be taken care of and done, always, in the here and now. We know we are saved by faith in Jesus, so why are things so tough?

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Despite some of their earthly circumstances being defeated, none of these people here experienced the constant and unbroken fellowship and communion with the Father, they did not receive what was promised.

None of these people here experienced the spiritual awakening and enriching and blessings that come from the finished work of Jesus. None of them. They did not receive what was promised.

But do you know what? You can. 

God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.


For us, seeing and enjoying the completed work of Jesus on the cross gives us much more reason to hold on to faith despite what may be going on in our lives.


Maybe that is what God is saying to you today – look, it doesn’t matter what is going on around you, whether things look like they ought to be fixed and changed, because you have something so much better to look to, to hold on to, to turn to, the finished work of Jesus on the cross, look what I have provided for you.

If you feel like you are caught in between the already saved and not yet sanctified, the already called but not yet delivered, that is ok, you are! But just look at what God has provided for you, look at how you can live in the here and now and in the tension between now and eternity.

So how do we live in this tension? How do we live between the already and not yet?

It is in the finished work of Jesus on the cross that you can live in the tension.

He has already triumphed over sin and death, but not yet come again.

He is already resurrected but not yet come again.

He is the great living example of the already and the not yet.

He is how we live in the tension between, because He is both already and not yet.