THE VIRUS AND THE ECONOMY, NOTE 4
A CALL TO SOCIAL CONTACT — A BIBLICAL CASE
The tumultuous time began with the virus. Near the beginning I warned friends and wrote of the one – two punch of the virus AND the economy. The effects of the two sometimes appear to cause professionals to square off against each other, where both sides cite the importance of either health or economic issues to make their case. A third group looks for plots and sinister plans, interpreting pieces of information to justify their position, but offer no solutions.
Consider the practical inclusion of scenes in the Bible — both the old books and the ‘new’ ones. They say the same things. Believers can be encouraged that the guidance is real and comes out of real history, real events, and real people.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Theme in biblical terms is resplendent. Book after book speaks of contact between brethren, between brethren and the lost, and between brethren and the oppressed, sick, homeless. With all due respect to the Zoom-only, online-only, and lock-down-only camps, they present solutions that reduce the impact and emphasis of the scriptural mandates to care, to have affection, to assist, and to love others. They present solutions like a sprinkle in a drought. While providing some relief, they are not complete.
BE CAREFUL AND USE WISDOM. These themes are also prevalent. The Old Testament gives detail on the separation of people from certain places or in certain times if they have communicable diseases (leprosy is a good example), where there was a legal requirement for being separated. That must be mollified, however, by the approach Jesus Christ took (as well as believers) to come near or minister or love the unlovely, the rejected, and the needy. Why? Because a condition often went too far in the hands of human nature, where a culture comes to reject people without adequate cause, or simply treat them as second class citizens, or not consider them at all.
WHERE IS THE BALANCE? The answer is not complicated, but it is also not a formula, because one size does not fit all. That does not set well with governing authorities, because it is hard to build in flexibility. But, individuals can, because ultimately they are feet “on the ground” and in the place of decision. So, what is the balance? When a situation is given restrictions so the despair, acute loneliness, sickness with no remedy, brokenness with no relief, and poverty with no help become dominant, then social distancing must bow. Now, using the biblical examples of wisdom, this does not mean chuck all social distancing, but it does mean that it is not the most fundamental thing to consider. Being hungry, downtrodden, a stranger in a hard place without a friend, a prisoner, one without clothes, one who is sick with no help or consolation (does this not sound like Matthew 25:37-40?) means that the one who follows Christ has no choice: you must respond. Let me repeat: you MUST respond.
THE CAUTIONS. If a child is at the side of a road and lurches into a lane of traffic, a mother or father will do anything to move the child to safety. Do likewise. If the child is a few feet away and there is time, you might call to the little one, or throw something, or intercept the child’s line of travel. The choices in an infectious environment are not always obvious. Do what is appropriate. If you can protect yourself, do so. If you can pray without hugging a truly infectious person, then be protected. But don’t not respond. In other words, the believer that hunkers down, ignoring the basics of relational importance that I have already mentioned, is in error. Do what you are to do, as safely as possible, but do it.
EXAMPLES. Watching a family come apart or the sick member die without relief of a prayer or touch for days is a travesty. I have donned protective clothing, with knowing increased risk, to be close to a loved one, to not leave them alone. I have taken food inside to a stranger’s house, knowing it was full of filth, because no one else would. I have held a young teenager in my arms as she wept uncontrollably, knowing that it crossed social etiquette but knowing I was the “father on-the-spot” at that unrepeatable moment.
DO WHAT YOU MUST DO, CHURCH. I speak of individuals who make the church body to obey the basic fundamentals of the Scripture in this time of need. Do it as carefully as you can, but don’t stop doing it. Your living Christianity does not have a retirement mode, especially in a time of need. If you choose to retire all your biblical practices, then at least pray for someone to take your place.