COVID-19’S OTHER THREAT

Heading Off Social Distancing of a Different Kind 

Social distancing (with a measure)

Our church reopened last Sunday! After six long, challenging weeks of stay-at-home lockdown, we eagerly gathered for worship in stage one of Idaho’s Rebound plan.

Given health risks, we observed safety protocols. Everything got sanitized. Social distancing was employed. We cancelled our regular weekly luncheon together.

Thankfully we survived week one of the new abnormal—but it wasn’t easy. Honestly, last week was the toughest this pastor pushed through thus far in his short tenure at Trinity.

Health issues aside, another threat posed by the pandemic tends to keep me awake at night.

One blogger astutely asked: “What will it matter if we re-assimilate only to end up ‘socially distant’ again not because of a virus, but because of our inability to love others who approach COVID-19 differently than we do?”

Great question!

Consider four ways to minimize the looming relational risks.

One, Pray for Leaders

Someone has to call the ball. Sheep are not stupid; they are dependent on good shepherds to serve them. Wisdom is needed everywhere.

Paul pleads of first importance “that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people–for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way (1 Tim. 2:1-2).”

What might change if we pray more for leaders at every level than we post criticism on social media about their judgments?

Two, Be Patient

I’m in Indiana Jones mode these days—making things up as I go along! They don’t teach “Pastoring in Pandemics” in seminary.

I feel in over my head. This thing seems way above my paygrade. The challenge to get things right grows bigger each day.

Leaders need followers who remember the first mark of love is patience (1 Cor. 13:4).

Three, Do Peacemaking

Opinions on all things COVID abound. With them comes the potential for sharp disagreements. What are we to do?

Of all the conciliatory principles I could cite, I suggest at least these three guidelines for avoiding falling out with others, if at all possible.

“Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5).

“Let us not pass judgment on one another” (Rom. 14:13).

“Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you” (Rom. 15:7).

We need to give others a wide berth in figuring things out, in the same way we desire for them to treat us (Matt. 7:12).

Four, Keep Perspective 

Days after Nancy, my first wife, died of cancer, a lunatic gunned down 49 souls at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

KLTY radio 94.9 in Dallas-Ft. Worth asked me the ultimate question. Why? Among my answers: We live in a sin-broken world. Romans 8:22 explains: “the whole creation has been groaning in the pains of childbirth until now.”

Hardships like COVID shout to us, “This is not the way things are supposed to be. But it is not the way things will always be.” “We wait eagerly for adoption as sons” (Rom. 8:23).

Jesus will come again to make all things new! That’s the big-picture perspective.

Hope for that—but wait for it with patience (Rom. 8:25).

Question: What’s one thing which helps you love others with whom you differ?

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