Matt 13:31-33 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like aa grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
During this extraordinary time of social distancing, we want to remind you that social distancing is not something found in the Bible – or at least – it’s not something that the Bible speaks highly of or encourages us to do.
Physical Distancing vs Social Distancing
I believe that the government, in coining the phrase “social distancing” got it wrong.
Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not suggesting that we ignore the government’s advice by starting church up again and having face-to-face meetings. We need to honour the government’s advice to self-isolate. What I’m suggesting is that the term “social distancing” is wrong and we really should be talking about physical distancing.
The message of the kingdom of God is spread like yeast and starts like a mustard seed (Matt 13). In other words, it starts to spread when followers of Jesus understand that they have already been sent to the places they live, work, and play to intentionally seek to bring God’s influence to bear in those places. We’re not called to socially distance ourselves – the opposite in fact!
Here are a few examples of how I see this working:
- One person I heard about, working in the financial sector, started a weekly Zoom meeting with some of his colleagues so that they can call-in and try to make sense of what they are going through. There is great comfort for some just to be able to hear a voice and see facial expressions. He is now seeking to build relationships with the intention that Jesus would be known by many of them.
- Another person I heard about is writing short stories for kids, then sending them to church families with a special note of encouragement.
- Yet another person is using their computer programming skills to help smaller churches get online.
We’re supposed to engage not withdraw and at a time like this where we are bombarded with images of isolation we need to remember that the church is called to be counter-cultural.