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.

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!

1 Timothy 5.3-16 – Widows

Having instructed Timothy on how to interact with the different members of the church family, Paul continues and talks about one group in particular, widows

Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. 15 For some have already strayed after Satan. 16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.

The main point seems to be that the family takes care of the family. If the family of a widow can care for them, they should (v.4). This is backed up when Paul writes in v.8

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

The church is to step in, then, when there is no immediate family to provide care (v.9-10). Rather than take this as meaning that the church cares for no ladies under sixty, the idea is that the family takes care of the family first, the church should always be ready to help (Philippians 2.3-4, 1 Corinthians 12.26), but the full-time care of widows is to be taken on by the church only when no family remain (Let a widow be enrolled)

This may sound harsh, but Paul finishes with a reason, 

16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them.

Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.

The church, and all of us, should be seeking to help those who truly need it. It can be hard to discern who really needs help and who is looking for a handout, so we must rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 6.13) and godly counsel from those around us.

The main point here though for us today has to be that we need to be ready to help whoever, whenever, however they need it.

God’s church is always there to help the needy and help the helpers but as people, are we?

Hebrews 10.26-39 – Remove, Remember, Remain

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,

“Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.


What kind of people should we be?

Why should keep going to church (vv.19-25)?

What does being part of a body help us become?

We should be the kind of people for whom there will never come a time when we might give in to the temptation to declare that the whole thing was worthless (vv.26-31).

We should be the kind of people who refuse to remove ourselves from right relationship with God through a steadfast faith in the faithfulness of Jesus.

We should be the kind of people who remember what happened to us when we first gave our lives to Him (vv.32-38).

We should be the kind of people who remember the former days when after we were enlightened how we put up with and triumphed over everything that the world, the flesh, and the devil could throw at us.

We should be the kind of people who live by faith and do not shrink back (v.39).

Faith is what matters–God’s faithfulness to us, and our answering that with faith in Him.

We should be the kind of people who have faith in Jesus and preserve our souls, remain in Him.

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Is that you?

Take Me To Church

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.

Hebrews 10.24-25

Some may say, well, I go gather with Christians for breakfast once a month, or, I go to a home-group. Is that what we are talking about?

“The words, not neglecting to meet together, presumably refer to worship meetings…the Greek word suggests some official assembly.” (Guthrie)

We are talking, then, of the formal, organised, gathering and assembling of the church.

So, a home growth group is good, but not church, and not what we are talking about. It’s a supplement to your diet, not your diet.

Watching sermons from your favourite preacher on YouTube, is good, if they are biblically sound, but it’s not church. 

Reading devotionals is good, listening to podcasts is goo, but it is not church. 

None of those things are going to give you a hug when you are sad. 

None of those things are going to help you with your day-to-day life when you need practical help. 

None of those things are going to drive to your house when they hear you are having a tough time or have hurt yourself.

None of those things will rearrange their schedules or drop everything to do something for you.

None of those things I’m going to call you up and offer you a word of encouragement spontaneously because the Holy Spirit prompting them to do so.

Church does.

Church is a special thing, church is a unique thing, church is a holy and sacred thing that we must not neglect to be part of. 

We should want to be at everything with everyone all the time.

Practically, you will never be with everyone and at everything all the time…but is that your intention when you have a choice?

Given a choice, do you choose church, the living body of Christ?

Why do I need to go to church?

To fill our hearts with full assurance of faith.

To strengthen our hands to hold fast our confession.

To consider, to think deeply, how to stir one another up to love and good works.

23.007

N.T. Wright wrote that every Christian who comes through the door in the place of worship is a real encouragement to everyone else who is there. 

And for that reason we need to have the attitude of ‘take me to church’.

1 Timothy 3.8-13 – A Deacon in Character

Yesterday we said that the character of an Elder is something we should all be working towards displaying. Today, it’s the same with Deacons. How your church deploys the service of Deacons will most likely be different from the church down the road, and that’s ok, however the character of the people involved should not be too different.

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

A Deacon is one who provides leadership through acts of practical service (Acts 6.1-6). Meeting particular needs, they lead through serving and exemplify the dedicated service of a believer to the Lord. Because they meet particular needs, their service within individual church bodies may look different. Maybe they aren’t as formally structured as the Elders, but will be there for sure, quietly working to make sure the church body is served.

Again, whether we all serve as Deacons or not is interesting. We are all called to serve the Lord and each other (Galatians 5.13, 1 Peter 4.10), therefore, you could make a case that we are all to be Deacons, meeting particular needs and ensuring that our church bodies are well maintained. There is no option in the Word for casually turning up to church, sitting, soaking it all in, and leaving. Everyone is contributing, everyone is part of the body (1 Corinthians 12.12, 14).

Maybe you don’t feel like serving the church practically is that important. Maybe you have refrained from volunteering your time and talents because you don’t think it will make much of a difference, it’s “only…“, but, look at v.13, those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. It’s good for the church that we all serve as Deacons, it’s good for ourselves that we all serve as Deacons, and it’s good for our faith that we all serve as Deacons.

As with Elders, there is a difference between being a Deacon in character and being asked to serve on a particular board or within a particular team. The character is something we are to all be working towards and displaying. The character is more important.

May we be a church full of Elders and Deacons!

1 Timothy 3.7 – An Elder in Character

We continue then with Paul’s letter to Timothy. Today Paul, the church planter, writes to Timothy, the church leader, with instructions on how this fledgling fellowship should be led and supported. Within the structure of the letter, within the who-is-writing-to-who-about-what we begin to see God’s model for church leadership.

Today in 1 Timothy 3.7, the character of the men needed to help Timothy lead spiritually. Does that mean that if you’re not appointed to serve as an Elder you should never focus on these character qualities? Absolutely not!

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

There will never be a church in the world where every single man who demonstrates these character qualities is actively serving as an Elder, because, in theory every man, and woman for that matter, should be working to display these qualities in their everyday life.


Being appointed to serve as an Elder should be seen as separate from simply being an Elder in character, something we all must do.


The character needed (an overseer MUST be…) is far more important than the actual structure within which these traits are deployed. It’s better to have a church full of Elder-like people than have only a handful, for sure. 

We see, then, that in this passage it all comes down to character, not gifting or ability.

We are all called to serve God (Hebrews 9.14), we are all uniquely gifted (1 Corinthians 12), but the character of a mature and maturing believer is something we should all aspire to regardless of age, gender, gifting, appointment, calling, or service. 

Today then, let us be believers who are outwardly demonstrating our growing maturity in the Lord by the character we display, let us all work towards being Elders in character.