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 God Any Different?

There are certain things that we all want. Love, respect, comfort, security, the pursuit of happiness, hope for the future, to know that there is something or someone greater, to belong to something bigger than ourselves, to know that God is different to us. 

Here, Job seems to be asking the same kind of question,

Have you eyes of flesh?
Do you see as man sees?

Job 10.4

When things are crumbling around him, Job is asking ‘God, are you any different? Is there any point in me trusting you? Are you just like everyone and everything else? Are you any different?

He answers his own question in vv.8-13 but things around him lead him to ask the question. It’s so easy, and very human, to ask these big questions of God when things are going wrong. Given the current state of the pandemic-ridden world, we would be forgiven for asking the same questions, ‘Really God, why is this happening? I thought you loved everyone? Are you any different?

Ask those questions. Ask and then turn to the Word to find the answers in places like this,

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55.6-9

Yes, our great God is different.

He is real, He is near, He delights in compassion, forgiveness, and grace. He knows what is truly best for His creation (Job 10.12-13in ways that we simply cannot understand. He is different. 

Whilst it looks like the world is falling apart, could it be that things are falling into place in the eyes of Him who sees the bigger picture? I would encourage you today to trust in His unfailing love, grace, wisdom, and His ability to ensure that His will is always done, on earth as it is in heaven.