Before the days of social distancing


Don’t follow the masses

Today, I was sent toilet rolls in the post and just in time, some might say, as one of my children has all the signs of the coronavirus. This virus has caused the spread of two things, in particular, one is the virus itself and secondly the ‘panic’ caused by how people respond. It seems that fear is contagious as well, and as Rene Girard taught, people follow people because no one person knows what they want or what to do, ‘Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns to others in order to make up his mind. We desire what others desire because we imitate their decisions’ (Rene Girard).

Close all the schools and the unintended consequences

When a decision is made to shut down the gathering of the church we must ask what motivates such a decision to be made. If the government made the decision to shut churches as they have schools, this is not because they are opposing the Gospel, rather they are fulfilling their leadership under God whether they realise it or not (Romans 13). The Church knows full well, that we are to obey the government and their decisions, as far as they do not govern us in a way contrary to the teaching of Scripture. This is God’s common grace at work and this is how we can explain what is happening to others.

What we have noticed so far, is that people with underlying health conditions have died as a consequence of being infected with the virus. We have also noticed that healthy people who have businesses large and small are also suffering and the consequences of their suffering are spreading as quick, if not quicker, than the virus itself. This is not to undermine the loss of life but simply to point out that all of life is affected by this virus and the long term effects cannot as yet be measured. Those who are vulnerable to this virus and the consequences of the virus are vulnerable in more ways than just having poor health. This means that such measures as we have seen, will have a big effect on so many children who rely on the social benefits of schooling, and who do so for more than education alone, for this is the place wherein so many cases they are fed and loved.

Out of sight, Out of mind, then be concerned with the concerns of others.

What this virus has shown is the old truth of what is out of sight is often out of mind. But the moment we are affected by a current concern we become concerned with it. In turn, we learn very quickly that what is important to us is often that which only affects us. The church, however, is to show the world how it’s done, what true fellowship and love for one another looks like. That our decision to love one another is motivated and shaped by God’s love and self-denial. Therefore we are able to detect the difference between panic-driven decision making and wise decision making. One wise decision would be to follow the words of Jeremiah ‘But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.’ (Jer 29:7). While this was a different time and situation it nonetheless demonstrates what it means to love our neighbours. Practically this means praying for the NHS and all those who work in it, those who are looking after vulnerable children, employers and employees, families and people who are on their own.

Family worship and Home education

Now that schools have been closed and families will not be spending the same amount of time apart each day, the question of education and recreation is an important one to answer. For those who are about to home educate for the first time (due to schools being closed), this may feel like an overwhelming role but it needn’t. Having a good structure to your day and being well prepared with one or two lessons would be a good place to start. When it comes to family worship these times should be distinct and separated from other things that you do together as a family. Praying together and for each other, if you don’t already do would be a good place to start, also reading through a book of the bible together, asking questions and finding how God has answered them through bible study is a joyful practice. If this is not a common practice currently in your home, then now is the time to start.

Prayer and devotion

As we continue to devote ourselves to God in prayer, remind yourself that God does answer. While many things are beyond our control and our behaviour can often be described as panic-driven and loss averting, remember that God does not suffer from such weaknesses. So we continue to pray and given the situation, we might just pray a little more now than we did before and this would be a move in the right direction.

Note: New messages coming to Knowing Christianity this Sunday in a video, audio and written format. This is a good time to think through the centrality of the Gospel for the world we live in.


By Daniel Ralph

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