Social Distancing: It’s Nothing New
Blog by Mike Carman
Social distancing is the new and now-familiar term in our lexicon. But although the phrase may be recent, the concept is not.
In Luke 17, we read about Jesus entering a village where he was met by ten men with skin diseases (leprosy). They called out to him, begging him to have mercy on them, and he responded by telling them to go show themselves to the priest. They complied, and as they went they found themselves healed! One of them not only realized the source of his healing but the need to return to Jesus to acknowledge his gratitude. He found Jesus, fell on his face at the Lord’s feet, and expressed his glory to God. Jesus commended him for his faith and sent him on his way.
Here are four contemporary thoughts that stood out as I read this well-known story:
- The ten lepers who called out to Jesus “stood at a distance” as they raised their voices to him. It was customary at this time for those with skin diseases to be set apart from the general population because they were contagious and because they were religiously unclean. It makes sense, in light of the possibility of transmission, that those who are, or could be, infected remain a safe distance from others. For us, it’s not just a matter of infection, but also of precaution. That’s a good thing. And smart…because it works.
- Social distancing is not the same as social isolation. It’s true that the distance these men were required to stay away from others marked them as socially undesirable to the general public, but they cultivated a connection with each other. This group of ten (our President would be proud!) found relational needs met by being together. In the midst of their pain and suffering, they were not alone. And as we make our plans to withdraw from our social contexts for a time, we don’t have to go into isolation or hibernation. Social media, email and the good old telephone are great ways to connect with others who are dealing with what we are facing. Commit to turn what some see as a negative into a positive by intentionally reaching out to those who are going through the same experience and could use a personal touch.
- These men called out to Jesus where they stood. And he heard them. From where he stood. There is no magic formula or special way to get God’s attention. Simply cry out to him. It’s a matter of the heart, not the location. Regardless of where we find ourselves, we have the ability to reach God’s ear. And his hand can touch us and meet our needs from where he is. Some despair because their church services have been put on hold. But that does not put the church- His people- on hold! We can still call out to him, be heard by him, give glory to him, and be used by him regardless of where we find ourselves.
- We must recognize where our source of help and healing comes from. Nine of the ten men Jesus healed went on their way rejoicing, I’m sure, for their miraculous healing. Only one understood the origin of his miracle- it was not simply about the what but the who! Our current pandemic will pass and life will begin to look “normal” again. Many will simply move on, failing to see God’s hand, but we who acknowledge him as our source of life and health must be wise enough to look at His part in our recovery, fall at his feet, and give him glory. Don’t miss what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will do!
There is much to be worried and anxious about today. And the situation may not get better for a time. But when we find others with whom we can share life, call out to Jesus wherever we find ourselves, expect Him to do in and through us what only He does, then make sure he gets credit, we’ll no longer have to live “under the circumstances,” but will rise above them in victory- and that’s a far better place to live!