Social distancing. Up until a couple of months ago, who knew that was even a thing? (Then again, who knew Coronavirus – COVID-19 – was even a thing?) But here we are, practicing the new virtue of social distancing, at least for the not-too-distant future.
Introverted individuals might not have known the term, but they’ve been cool with social distancing all their lives. So they’re adjusting to the new social norms pretty easily. No crowds? No problem! More people-oriented folks, however, have been discovering anew what “stir crazy” means.
Their socializing tanks have become depleted, yet they’re instructed not to be around others who could refill them. Crisis upon crisis!
One of these days the pandemic will have come to an end and, hopefully, we can get back to normal mingling and interacting. But in the meantime, we have a grim, daily reminder of an important principle: We need each other. And it becomes even more evident when precautionary practices like social distancing and self-quarantining are instituted.
The reason for this is simple – it’s how God designed us. Since the dawn of creation, humankind’s need for fellowship has been evident. After deciding, “Let us (the Trinity) make man in our image…” (Genesis 1:26), the Lord ordained for the first man, Adam, to have companions. After creating “all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air,” He decided having animals around was insufficient. Adam needed a human companion and created the first woman, Eve (Genesis 2:19-23). We might say that was both good news and bad news!
But our need for others goes even further. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 we read that just as the human body’s health and proper functioning is dependent upon its various parts working in concert, we as followers of Jesus Christ also need each other:
“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ…. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, whether would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be….”
Even as we tolerate social distancing for a while, consciously and subconsciously we realize we are dependent upon each other – even the socially reluctant.
Another passage in the Scriptures underscores the importance of being with others. To grow in our faith, we need to support one another. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25). The next verse adds another sobering reminder: “and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” This refers to the promised return of Jesus.
For the moment – at least as I write this – we’re being admonished to semi-isolate, to avoid gathering in groups where germs from the virus could potentially be passed from one person to another. Before long, we hope, that necessity will have ended and we can again mingle to our hearts’ content.
But let the lesson be learned about how we really do need one another, not just for how they can benefit us, but also for how we can be of benefit to them. Maybe this reality will make such an impression on us that we can actually get our noses out of our smartphones! We can only hope.
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