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.

Is This All There Is?

In answering our last big question, we came to the conclusion that we cannot fix our own problems, but that there is One who can. Now, Job continues in despair and seems to ask, ‘Is this all there is?’.

“Has not man a hard service on earth,
and are not his days like the days of a hired hand?”

Job 7.1

Job is feeling like he has been conscripted to fight in a battle that is not his (a hard service), and feels trapped in this position (the days of a hired hand). This is certainly a difficult place to be in. 

Have you ever felt like that? That you have been sucked into a situation and battle that is not your own, or that you are so totally trapped in something you cannot envisage a way out?

At times like this we should look to the most repeated command in the Word and the most repeated promise in the Word, both of which can be found in Isaiah 41,

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Fear not, don’t worry, don’t stress, don’t let anxiety get the better of you, because I am with you.

David Guzik writes on this,

“Years ago, J.B. Phillips wrote a wonderful book titled, Your God is too Small. In it, he showed how when people forget the greatness of God, they easily become dismayed. But God says, be not dismayed, for I am your God.

Job was in a situation that seemed to be world-ending. His circumstances were getting on top of him, he was dismayed, and his thoughts were leading him to conclude that this was all there was ever going to be. This is so easy to do.

But, the command and promise of God tell us something different. There is more. There is One who promises to walk the difficult road with us, to carry us if need be, to join us in the battle, to fight the battle for us.

There was more for Job, and there is more for you.

2 Timothy 2.20-21 – You Matter

Reasonably often nowadays we see a very fatalistic attitude come to the surface when people talk about religions or faith traditions. Things like, “Well, you know, it’s out of my hands because DEITY will do this or that.”

Whilst there is an element of that in our Christian faith (God is absolutely sovereign over His creation, see Psalm 135.6, Proverbs 21.1, Ephesians 1.11, Acts 2.23 for a couple of examples) we are also encouraged to play our part, to partner with the Lord in achieving His purposes and bringing to fruition His plans. In His great love for us, He actually wants you to be involved. Today Paul makes this clear to Timothy.

20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

Paul writes that in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay. The house is the house of God, built on the firm foundation we read about yesterday. Simply, in God’s house, in the church here on earth, there are those who make themselves available for honorable use, and those who do not.

When you go to church you probably end up looking at and listening to those who have made themselves available to the Lord for honorable use and have the wonderful privilege of praying for the church, leading the church in worship through music, or preaching and teaching the Word. 

Friends, we should all make ourselves available to the Lord for honorable use, He wants you to cleanse yourself from what is dishonorable and to become a vessel for honorable use. We should all want to be more and more set apart as holy (sanctified), and to be useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work


Maybe your good work is in the job you are working, maybe it’s in the family you are raising, maybe it’s in the Bible study you lead, maybe it’s in the witness you give your friends when playing football with them, but we will be given as much opportunity for good work as we make ourselves available to the master of the house, being cleansed from what is dishonorable.


Maybe you think, wait, I am cleansed by the blood of Jesus shed for me, I am justified by my faith in Him, being sanctified day by day and conformed into His image, and I will ultimately be glorified when I am forever in His presence. That’s true, you are. What Paul is teaching Timothy, and the attitude we need to have about serving in the house of God is this,

“…there is another aspect of cleansing which God looks for us to do with the participation of our own will and effort. Not that it is our work apart from God, but it is a work that awaits our will and effort…This aspect of cleansing is mostly connected with usefulness for service, and closeness to God.”

David Guzik

So, friends, you matter. Your character matters. Your conduct matters. Your will and effort matter.

Do you want to be useful to the master of the house? Are you ready for every good work

In this process you make the decision, because you matter.

2 Timothy 1.6-7 – Fan Into Full Flame

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Paul begins by saying for this reason, so we know we need to look back a few words. So, because of the faith that was in Timothy (v.5), Paul encouraged him to cooperate and communicate with the Lord and for this reason…fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands…It seems that Paul had prayed over Timothy, laid hands on him, and conferred and confirmed the Lord’s gifting in Timothy.

Paul then goes on to say that the reason Timothy should do this, the reason he should take the faith that lives in him and boldly fan into full flame the gifts God has given him is because God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control

David Guzik writes on this,

In 1 and 2 Timothy there are no less than 25 different places where Paul encouraged Timothy to be bold, to not shy away from confrontation, to stand up where he needs to stand up and be strong. Because of who Timothy was and the responsibilities he had to bear, this was what Timothy needed to hear.

The chain of connection is clear; faith > gifts > boldness > power-love-self-control.

The Word of God speaks clearly about the fact that we are all gifted by the Lord (Ephesians 4.10-16). This gifting is to be used boldly because God has given us a spirit of power and love and self-control.

The giftings of God are not to be hidden away – we have been given a spirit of power.

The giftings of God are not to be used to control others – we have been given a spirit of love.

The giftings of God are not to be abused and misused – we have been given a spirit of self-control.

Pause and think – what has God gifted you to do?

What are you good at? How do you best serve people?

I would encourage you today to think on this, then with the faith that dwells in you fan it into full flame with the spirit of power and love and self-control that God has given us. 

A Prophetic Christmas

What are you planning to give people this Christmas?

Did you buy them the latest or greatest — ?

Maybe you’re a person that thinks of gift ideas so easily that this time of year is no problem for you.

Maybe you have no idea what you can give people, and so Christmas is a time where you worry about over/under gifting.

How about a word of prophecy?

Perhaps you hear this word and think of the Old Testament guys and gals who predicted (accurately and without fail) future events concerning God’s people and God’s coming Messiah (Micah 4.8, 5.2, Isaiah9.2-7 for example). Let’s be clear: that is not what we are talking about. That ministry is no more.

However, we do read in 1 Corinthians 14.3 that those who speak a word of prophecy speak to someone for their upbuilding, their encouragement, or they consolation.

On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.

In contrast (on the other hand) to the gift of tongues which is personal and private (1 Corinthians 14.2, 5b, 6, 9, 19), prophecy is for others, prophecy is using your words in accordance with God’s Word to build people up, encourage people, and to console people.

So, this Christmas season, many people are so concerned with many things. Be a person who gives a word of prophecy, a word of upbuilding, a word of encouragement, a word of consolation. Second only to the unmatchable gift of God’s expressed love to you in the person of Jesus, I’m not sure there is anything more we can give people than love, upbuilding, encouragement, and consolation. 

1 Timothy 4.6 – Words and Ways

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

Timothy’s job as the pastor of this new church in Ephesus is to instruct, to teach, and to model, by putting these things before the brothers and sisters. ‘These things‘ would appear to be the Word of God and prayer (v.5) and the sum of Paul’s instruction so far (2.1-4.5). 

The pastor, then, needs to be in the Word if he is to teach the Word.

The pastor, then, needs to be in the Word if he is to model the word by his ways.

The pastor, then, needs to be in the Word.

But, is the pastor the only person in church that needs to put these things before the brothers? Is the pastor the only person who needs to model the words of faith and the good doctrine?

This is really a call to everyone who has submitted and committed to the Jesus-following life. All of us are called, by our words and ways, to put these things before the brothers and sisters

David Guzik writes,

It is also important to say that instruction should be understood in a broad sense, not only as classroom-style teaching or Sunday preaching. Jesus instructed His disciples, but with His presence, His life, and His practice as well as with His words.

Surly there can be no greater reward for ministering in this manner than being called a good servant of Christ Jesus. We long to hear the words of Matthew 25.23,

‘Well done, good and faithful servant.

You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.

Enter into the joy of your master.’ 

Let us go today and resolve to put these things before the brothersbeing trained in the words of faith and of the good doctrine.

1 Timothy 3.16 – Basics of Belief

Have you ever stopped to think about what makes you a Christian, or why you are a Christian? 

Maybe it was a personal experience with Jesus so powerful that you are wholly convinced.

Maybe it is the nature of the Word of God written for us; complete, sufficient, illuminating, instructive, inspired.

At the core of both, or of anything we could give as a reason for why we believe, is the person and work of Jesus.

16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

These six things are the basics of our belief. Jesus was;

…manifested in the flesh – John 1.14

…vindicated by the Spirit – Matthew 3.16, Romans 8.11a

…seen by angels – Luke 2.8-14

…proclaimed among the nations – Luke 24.27, Colossians 1.28

…believed on in the world – John 3.16

…taken up in glory – Acts 1.8-11

The key to the character needed by the believer (1 Timothy 3.1-13), is being in a personal relationship with this Jesus (v.16 above). The basics of our belief are found in a personal relationship with Jesus.

Take a moment today and think – why do I believe, and am I in this relationship?