I have never experienced this type of communal disintegration like this in my little time on this side of life. Social distancing is a global principle now because of the coronavirus pandemic. Apart from the health implications, I see the spiritual implications of social distancing as part of the habit we must cultivate long after the end of the pandemic. To curtail the spread of the virus, people must avoid all forms of contact as much as possible. Yet, the followings are a few spiritual lessons that call for action, especially among those who are religious.
1. The building is not the church. It clearly shows by our experience that the building where we worship is not the church, but the individual worshipers. Though Christians do not gather in groups, yet families and individuals still have the time to fellowship with their creator in the convenience of their home. And irrespective of where people call on God, he still gives attention to them. This is where the statement of Jesus about the true worshipers comes to play. John 4:21-22.
2. It paints the picture of the post-rapture period. The current situation gives an idea of what happens during the reign of the Antichrist. What will happen after the rapture as recorded in the scriptures? Then, there will be no room to worship the true God because there will be no need for that.
Now, everybody is a covid-19 suspect in his home, especially if a member of the family has gone out or coming from the virus-infested gathering, community, state, or country. That is why people go for self-quarantine without anybody asking them to do so. What are the spiritual implications of social distancing here? There would be no contact between the sinner and the Saint after the rapture. At that time, our relationship as friends, family, and church members in the past was irrelevant. Just as the relative of a covid-19 victim could not help him, so the Saint will not be able to help the unrepentant relative.
3. This was a secret of church growth by the early apostles. Unfortunately, the church, in general, we’re unable to harness this period of the stay at home to grow the church and reach out to sinners. This is because people are receptive to the word of God as part of the signs of the end time.
A look at the book of acts of the apostles reveals churches were meeting in houses for fellowship. This account for the growth of the church through house cell. That makes it easier to manage the people and maintain a social relationship. With that, needs are easily identified and met. Also, problems are nip at the bud before it escalated.
To me, this is also part of the spiritual implications of the social distancing that churches should put in place after the lockdown. Though people cannot meet in a large number, a few in the range of 5 to 10 can still converge on a place and fellowship together. Thus, churches should develop and encourage home cell fellowships after the pandemic.
4. It is a test of our true love. Jesus illustrates genuine love and brotherhood with the parable of the good Samaritan. Luke 10:25-37. If there is any spiritual lesson we learn during this coronavirus pandemic, it is the demonstration of true love. It was a time of sharing and caring. It shows we can care for one another if we choose to do so. Besides that, the situation removes selfishness from most of us.
The spirit of giving was so contagious that each person out of his little was ready to part away with some with the less privileged people around them. This should be our culture after this crisis.
5. It is a prototype of spiritual separation. Long before now, God commanded his children not to mingle with the gentile nations around. If we see this as part of the spiritual implications of the social distancing it will mean Christians should steer clear of anything and anyone that will contaminate them.
During this lockdown, the government prohibited all forms of social engagement, and heaven didn’t fall because of that. In the same way, believers can do away with any social engagement that can defile them. People had a burial, wedding, and naming ceremonies during the stay at home order without sounding any alarm, this I believed could continue after the pandemic.
6. Using technology to advance the gospel. More than ever before, Christian organizations, individuals, and churches explore the Internet and social media to reach out to their members during this crisis. With such a medium, leaders were able to meet the spiritual need of their members.
Video conferencing and live streaming of services and messages were deployed to reach the people. I think nations hostile to the gospel were unsuccessful at stopping people who choose to serve God online. Now that we know how effective technology is, those who are opposed to such an idea can now key into the system.
I must admit the period of covid-19 was a time of a great loss to the individuals, families, and nations. Still, the spiritual implications of the social distancing were a plus to us. How much we could recover from our losses depends on our perspective of the whole experience.