More thoughts on the COVIDs and quarantine. Come join The Socially Remote!
In the second episode of The Socially Remote, the guys continue their consideration of the Gospel Coalition’s article “8 Things the Coronavirus Should Teach Us” by Mark Oden.
Last week we introduced ourselves and the podcast and got through point 2 of the article “8 Things the Coronavirus Should Teach Us” by Mark Oden.
Today, we’ll finish the remaining six points of the article. As a reminder, this article was written by a pastor in Italy during the throes of the virus. The first two points that we covered last week were fragility and equality. This week we’ll cover the remaining six: loss of control, pain of being excluded, the difference between fear and faith, the need for God in prayer, vanity of our lives, and our hope.
For the Counselors
We said most of what we wanted to say last week, so we’re keeping our feelings to ourselves this time around.
Loss of Control
This is similar to our discussion of our fragility from the last episode. Ultimately this thing is out of our hands. We can do all the social distancing and disinfecting that we want, but it is the Lord that will have to bring this to an end (Proverb 16:9).
This is a good reminder that we are not in control. One of the frustrating things about this pandemic is that regardless of what we think, we are being told what to do. We might disagree, but it ultimately doesn’t matter. This is bringing a sense of helplessness that Steven wrote a blog post about (check it out here: “Feeling Helpless in the Time of COVID“).
The other idea that COVID is bringing to the forefront is how control of our lives is ultimately an illusion.
Pain of Being Excluded
We are created for relationship, and the quarantine is often forcing us to rely on what are poor substitutes at best (e.g., social media).
In addition to the lack of community, Matt brought forward some studies that he recently read about concerning the negative psychological effects to isolation (releasing chemicals that are akin to those released in animals for hibernation).
However, the quarantine may shed some light on how lepers were treated in the Bible. Matt mentioned how a scene from the recent YouTube phenomenon The Chosen really struck a chord as it depicted a leper walking into a shop and being chastised for not keeping his appropriate distancing. Jesus is later confronted by this leper, and while his followers are afraid, Jesus willingly approaches him with compassion and love and ultimately heals him (see Luke 5:12-14).
This especially hits home when thinking about how we interact with our extended families (e.g., staying six fee away from one another, not coming into houses, not being able to hug, etc.).
Difference between Fear and Faith
This is an intriguing topic when you consider how fear and faith relate. Often we can get trapped into thinking that apathy is really faith. Instead of a robust trust in God’s sovereignty, we often settle for trying to calm our own anxiety by pretending to not care.
God is sovereign over everything and nothing can separate us from His love; yet we’re going through a time when we don’t necessarily feel the truth of those two things. So how do we live that out? Both fear and faith should cause us to run to God. Speaking of the sovereignty of God, one of Matt’s favorite new Hillsong Worship songs is “He Shall Reign.” It’s a great reminder that, regardless of our circumstances, Jesus is sovereign over the universe (see Colossians 1:15-16).
One name outlasts the ages
Through time His truth revealed
While kings may pass like shadows
Our God is sovereign still
One issue that tends to produce a lot of fear is “death.” There seems to be an abject fear about the fact that we are going to die. We try to hide death in our culture, but this pandemic has brought it to the forefront. What better time to actually share the gospel? This provides an easy bridge to a conversation about eternity, since our conversations nearly always start with, “Is everyone safe and healthy?” We have the answer to the fear of death.
The Need for God in Prayer
Indeed! Continuing in the same thread as above, sometimes just offering to pray with people can do more for our witness than we know. Additionally, we need to remember that prayer is doing something. Too often we’re tempted to act instead of pray. But our prayer life is a reflection of our recognition of God’s sovereignty and our lack of control. If we really believe that He is in control, then He is the only One who can change this.
At this point in the podcast, there is a bit of a detour as we talk about Philly cheesesteaks. There’s no good way to explain how we got there, so you’ll just have to listen to the episode. But the moral of the story is that if you’re in Philly and want to eat where the locals do, go to Dalessandros or Chubby’s across the street.
Vanity of Our Lives
So much of our lives are spent in busyness that we end up missing out on our own lives. COVID has forced us to slow down. We try to do so much, and this virus has shown the futility of much of that busyness. Our culture is work-driven and consumer-driven. We fill our lives with so much noise that we lose our ability to reflect on our place in the world and our place with God. Additionally, our work and our possessions are so often where our culture finds its identity, and now those things are either being taken away or drastically changed (which is a great segue into, Where do we find our hope?).
All of our culture’s hopes are being crushed. The things to which we typically turn to find hope (our money, our jobs, our families, etc.) are changing at a rapid pace, so we have to find our hope elsewhere. Will we turn to the leadership of our country, the CDC, or big pharma? Or will we put our trust in a God who is bigger than COVID?
The comfort and hope believers have is that God entered into our suffering, and he can relate to it. If you’d like a good resource, Tim Keller’s Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is a great book.
Matt: To sum up the last two episodes, the article was informative and it really forced us to reflect on a lot of big pictures issues. Please read the article and think.
Steven: I am going to add a point 9 to this article. The Coronavirus has given me an opportunity to recognize the pain of others. We’ve gotten desensitized to death.
David: We are in the midst of history. This is going to be something we talk about and remember for decades to come, and it will be interesting to see the things we’ve lost that we don’t return to and the things we’ve gained that we end up keeping.
Thanks for engaging with The Socially Remote! We’d encourage you to like and review the podcast wherever you listen. If you want to reach out to us, you can email us at email@example.com. Join the next episode to hear us talk about social media (*Spoiler: each of the hosts has an interesting relationship with social media).
Links and Stuff
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About The Socially Remote
Does it ever seem like the longer you adult, the less social you become? The responsibilities of being a spouse, a parent, and an employee often leave us with little time for meaningful interaction outside our home and office. As a result, many of us aren’t even remotely social. We try to fill the void with outlets like Facebook and Twitter, but we soon discover social media isn’t as social as it sounds. And the effort we put into soliciting likes and comments doesn’t produce stronger relationships with other people like we’d hoped.
This podcast is an attempt by a pastor, a lawyer, and a generalist to combat the growing culture of social isolation by making time for meaningful conversations about life, theology, and the church. We want to create space in our lives to engage in regular discussion and debate with those around us, and we hope this podcast will encourage you to do the same.
So join Matt, David, and Steven as we take a deep dive on the issues that matter to us and try to put real conversation back in its rightful place.
We are The Socially Remote.
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For the Lawyers
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