Social Distancing In The Church

Series: The Church Defined. James Dewhurst June 21, 2020

  The Church Defined

Social Distancing In The Church

Today, in the third week of our series, I want to share a redefining and eye-opening message with us titled – Social Distancing In the Church!

Social Distancing! What are the positive benefits? What are the negative effects?

New studies estimate that related deaths from alcohol, drug overdose, and suicide, due to mental suffering from social isolation, is projected to reach 150,000. Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, said, “We see very troubling signs across the nation… There’s more substance abuse, more overdoses, more domestic violence, more neglect, and more abuse of children”.

Indiana Psychiatrist Christopher Bojrab has noted that since the start of COVID 19, a noticeable spike in calls from new patients, existing patients, and former patients who have been healthy for years, have been flooding in. He states that “Since the on-set of COVID-19, statistically, what we’re seeing the most of are anxiety disorders and mood disorders, including illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and a variety of other substance abuse disorders.”

Geriatric Psychiatrist, Dr. Osorio, states that “Loneliness is toxic to the body and a threat to public health, much like obesity and substance use. The research tells us that lonely people are more likely to become ill, experience cognitive decline, and die earlier. Social isolation and suicide are undeniably connected. Dr. Osorio cites that our country, amid a pandemic, is also experiencing an epidemic of loneliness. This is of such concern, that She has changed the quarantine language for her patients from social distancing to physical distancing because the social distance is so problematic!

The Kaiser family foundation has seen a 1,000% increase in emotional distress calls, and online therapy clients have increased by nearly 65% due to mental health disorders.

Distance may slow the spread of a virus, but it increases the playground of the enemy!

While we still may need to physically distance, we must socially connect to be healthy!

> Use digital platforms to connect!

> Pick up the phone and make a call!

> Meet friends outside under the blue sky!

In a world that’s been forced to separate, we have got to find ways to connect!

1 Peter 4:8-10

8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: (ESV)

Social distancing is nothing new, it has been being practiced by people for years!

– We know people from a distance!

– We care about people from a distance!

– We love people from a distance!

A personal mentor Jeanne Mayo once told me – “If your not close enough to get hurt, then you not close enough to make a difference!

Paul lays out how God wants believers to interact together in biblical community, in:

1 Thessalonians 5:14

14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (ESV)

Paul highlights four critical biblical pillars of community found in this passage:

1. Warn – Biblical community gets close enough to warn those who are in danger!

2. Encourage – Biblical community gets close enough to encourage those hurting!

3. Help – Biblical community gets close enough to learn about needs and help them!

4. Be Patient – Biblical community doesn’t quit on the struggling, but remains patient!

Paul encourages Christians in:

Galatians 6:2

2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (ESV)

We need to shift from a church of acquaintances to a church of family!

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 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. (ESV)

Satan wants to get us as far apart as he can get us so that he can do his work!

1 Peter 5:8-9

8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (ESV)

Some of the worst at social distancing are men!

Fathers, we need other fathers!

Isolation may be easier, but it’s not better!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (ESV)

When “I” is replaced by “We”, then illness can become wellness!

African Proverb – “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Pastor Rick Warren – “As Christians, we are called to belong not just believe.”

Luke 10:25-37

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (ESV)

-Jesus opens this passage by connecting eternal life to loving God & loving neighbors.

-After the religious leaders asked him to define what a neighbor is, Jesus proceeded to tell a parable about a man who was attacked, beaten, and left for dead by robbers.

-The big part is what happened next! Back to back, two God-fearing men, after seeing this hurting man, crossed over to the other side of the road and just kept on walking.

-It took a worldly foreigner who didn’t know God, to save the dying Jewish man.

-Christians have been social distancing for years! The church has got to stop crossing the road and passing by, and start rolling up our sleeves and getting dirty.

*Religion likes to stay distant and clean, but the relationship gets close and messy!*

Matthew 25:35-40

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (ESV)

Christians like to keep Jesus close and his followers at a distance! That doesn’t work!

I want to close today with 4 responsibilities Christians have to one another:

(1) Connect!

1 John 1:7 (NIV) “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…”

(2) Challenge one another!

Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

The biggest reason the church isn’t more mature is that we are too far apart!

(3) Confess to one another!

James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…”

(4) Carry one another!

Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

The greatest predictor of the health of a church is not its attendance, but it’s a community!