29 April 2020

Jesus and Social Distancing

Dear Church Family,

At the moment we are having to practice social distancing - we have to stay apart from each other because there is a risk of spreading infection. Have you ever considered how this is a reverse picture of the gospel?

In Mark 2:1-12, we read the story of the man who was paralysed, being lowered through the roof of a crowded house so that he could see Jesus. The reader, and the crowds in the story, expect Jesus to heal the man of his paralysis. But the shock in the story is that Jesus first of all says to the man: “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

The man’s sin was more of a problem in Jesus’ eyes than the man’s paralysis. After this Jesus shows he has power to forgive sins by healing the man, who “got up, took his mat and walked out”. Jesus was concerned for his physical healing, but the bigger problem was his sin.

In this passage and throughout the Bible we can think of sin as a kind of sickness, in fact the worst kind of sickness. One of the difficulties of our current pandemic is that we are separated from one another. But sin, the worst kind of sickness, social distances us from God himself, the source of all life, and so the result is death. In our social distancing at the moment we have to stay at least 6 feet apart from each other because of potential infection, but our distance from God is unmeasurable, it is eternal. God in his holiness cannot abide sin, which is why Adam and Eve were exiled from the garden of Eden, and our sin separates us from Him. This is the greatest social distance of all and there is no way that we can bridge that gap

But here is the great reverse… Jesus did not social distance himself. In fact, he did the opposite - He left heaven and came to earth to live amongst sinful people. Not only that, Jesus took on our sin, or, in the analogy of sickness, took on the virus of sin, absorbing all of its consequences so that we can be healed of it completely.

Social distancing is a reverse picture of what Jesus did and it should also be a reverse picture of the spread of the gospel. Christians have never been ones to practice social distancing. Our commission is to go into all the world and spread the gospel! We want this good news to spread. There are some interesting pictures and videos online that explain the maths behind social distancing. They explain that the more people we see, the more people we infect, and then the people we infect go on to infect others and so on. This is also how the gospel spreads as well. Who, apart from God knows, the impact sharing the gospel will have with someone? If they are converted what impact may they have on God’s Kingdom?

Although we can’t share the gospel physically, we can still show Jesus to the world in the way we are living in these times. Let us pray that through the online services and through speaking to friends and neighbours, even at a distance, we would be able to spread the gospel of Jesus and see healing from the greatest sickness of all.

With love,

Steve