We are in a new season of how we interact with this social distancing mandate. It’s not a new thing for me; I have been practicing the six-feet-apart posture for most of my life.
It started in kindergarten; back then, most boys thought girls had cooties, and if we got within six feet of them, we might catch one of those mysterious bugs. I never was told what would happen if I did, but the fear was strong enough to keep me from finding out.
Then in junior high, we had dances. I don’t know if you could call them dances. Most of us watched from a distance, and when we went out on the dance floor, we just rocked back and forth out of harm’s reach.
I have also been practicing social distancing for most of my life when it comes to certain foods. I would rather sit at the far end of the dining table than get close to a bowl of broccoli. And you can make a long list of other types of foods I practice social distancing with: liver, casseroles, tofu, tuna fish and fruitcake, to name a few.
As I grew older, I found myself doing social distancing from select deacons, angry senior adults and the finance committee. Yes, we all have practiced selective social distancing. But we chose who and what we distanced ourselves from; now, we are told who that group is.
And what is the deal with hoarding toilet paper? When I lived in Central Europe right after communism fell, toilet paper was rationed. Your daily allotment was the length of your fingertip to your elbow.
It will be a while before we can gather together as a church, but when we do, I plan to ask the minister of music to start the service by having us sing, “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder.” This year, when the children perform the modern-day version of the Christmas story, one of the three wise men should carry a roll of toilet paper.
I am not worried about running out, though. If and when I do, I have a backup plan. I will just start using CVS receipts; that should take me through the end of the year.
The sad part is that most of us practice spiritual distancing with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We come to church, brag on the goodness of God, study His marvelous truths and sing His praise but never seem to get the message out the front door and across the street to our neighbors.
Do you remember in 2 Samuel 6 when David wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel after the Philistines captured it? King David had sent 30,000 able-bodied men to bring it back on a new cart. On the way, the oxen stumbled, and the Ark of the Covenant teetered. A man named Uzzah reached up to steady it and dropped dead.
I knew if you touched the Ark of the Covenant, you would die, but there was a bigger problem: The ark didn’t ride on a cart. God had commanded the Israelites to attach rings to each corner of the ark and then insert poles into these rings, so the Ark of the Covenant would be carried on human shoulders. David was doing the right thing the wrong way (see Ex. 37:1-5).
God has always called for His Good News to be carried on the shoulders of those who have a relationship with Him. Spiritual distancing is unacceptable to God. The Scriptures are true, but we stand as witnesses to that Truth.
While we are sending missionaries around the world, why don’t we walk across the street? The Scriptures tell us, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Rom. 10:14-15).
Even though I am somewhat locked in my house, and I miss the physical contact of my loved ones, social distancing has not affected my spiritual connections. I have spent many hours using FaceTime and phone calls to teach, encourage and share spiritual truths.
The only things scarcer than toilet paper at Sam’s Wholesale Club are the people available to be used by God to take His Good News across the street. Today, let’s change that and say, “God, here I am; use me.” And “When the Roll Is Called up Yonder,” more people will be there because of you.