So how’s isolation going for you?
The more extroverted of us may have been craving people and contact, the more introverted are kind of secretly (or not so secretly) loving it. Many workers I’ve spoken to have said they’ve been enjoying physical isolation so far. Some have been able to catch up with all those smaller projects put on a backburner because of the interruptions being in an office can mean. Some have loved being able to work according to your own timeline and priorities. Many have loved the ‘me’ time.
In many ways, contemporary Australian society has been readying itself for this time of isolation for years. About 20 years ago in the ritzy suburbs of Australia, we heard tell of people who were eschewing the uncomfortable rubbing of shoulders with the general public and were watching their 1080p, rear projector, Dolby 5.1 surround sound movies with their ‘just as good as the cinemas’ popcorn straight from their very own microwave, in their very own lounge with cupholders. Now, we all have our 50+ inch 4k, with thousands of movies to binge watch over Netflix or Disney+. We never need to leave the house again! A recent survey by insurance companies discovered that 60% of us don’t know our neighbours, and 50% of us don’t want to! There’s a reason Stratco call their 6ft corrugated panel fence (with optional 1 ft extension) the “Good Neighbour”! No wonder we get caught up in panic buying toilet paper!
I, like you, am not immune to this inward drive. We can be just as prone to withdrawing to the comfort of our homes, enjoying some ‘me’ time. This verse from Proverbs is very apt: “The one who isolates themselves pursues selfish desires; they rebel against all sound wisdom” (Proverbs 18:1)
When we withdraw from others around us, our vision becomes me focused. We reject the advice of the others, we kick against sound wisdom, and become our own experts on Facebook in a world that revolves around me – or those who are most like me. I need to hear this warning!
So please, as we isolate ourselves physically for the good of our nation, for the love of God, don’t isolate yourself relationally.
We have an amazing hope of glory in Jesus – where we stand with a vast people of every tribe, language, people, and nation, surrounding the throne of Jesus. Declaring his praises, as we stand as co-heirs and brothers and sisters with the king! Eternal life is not a hall of mirrors, as John Piper has said. After all we worship the one who said that the greatest commandment was:
“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Now is not the time to indulge in my selfishness – to have my ‘me’ time. Now is a time to continue loving God and others. When I fall out of routine, I tend to drop my time with God first. How about you ? If you used to use your commute for your time with God, how are you going to carve out time in your calendar and new routines to make God a priority?
When we have been forced to isolate like now, we are tempted to ignore Jesus’ call to love God and others as ourselves. We need to remember the love we have experienced in God’s sending of his Son for us. Us who were once his enemies, but now count Jesus as our brother – co-heirs with him in glory! That is amazing, astounding, unparalleled love! That love must compel us to look to the good of others.
How your friends are going at this time? How they are really going? This is a very scary time for those who have no certainty beyond the grave. But they’re not going to tell you that in the daily Zoom meet up, or the weekly virtual “drinks”. It’s time to pursue relationships virtually. It’s time to employ “Coffee, Dinner, Gospel” virtually. Is there a colleague you could check in on over Hangouts or Zoom? Could you organise a virtual work lunch? Is it time to set up a virtual Zumba session? (Does anyone Tae Bo anymore?) It’s not as easy as it was when they were just a few seats away. It can be hard and a bit weird to call someone – but we need to lean into the weirdness; be willing to be thought a fool for Jesus.
Because now is the time for our hope of glory to shine! We long to be asked for the reasons for our hope, but if our colleagues don’t see it in the dark times – they will never see it.
Besides, I think you’ll find most people are more than happy to have a chat at this time – and will really appreciate your demonstrated love (but maybe tee it up with a message beforehand).
So let’s love others during this crisis, and for the love of God, don’t isolate yourself during isolation.
Image by Trent Szmolnik on Unsplash