Navigating the Complexities of Distancing When We Hold Different Comfort Levels

by Alyssa Poblete •
25 May 2020

This week I’ve had conversations with friends who are over wearing a mask in the store and friends spraying Lysol all over their Amazon packages. Some are longing for human contact, or even just eye contact, while others are feeling violated by uninvited hugs. I’ve heard from people that are battling anger over injustice and others battling bitterness over indifference. I also have a lot of friends who fall somewhere in between that spectrum and are feeling the overwhelm of not knowing what to think.
There are no simple answers going forward. Right now, we are all feeling our way through the shadows with varying measures of faith and clarity on what faithfulness looks like in this time. And what faithfulness looks like for me, may be vastly different than what it looks like for you.

Here’s the thing, there is no lack of competing data. Any one of us can prop our opinions up on information garnered from any number of seemingly legitimate sources. And if you have spent any time on social media, you know what that is doing to our interactions. What causes one of us to nod our head in agreement, another is outraged by, even within Christian community. What a conundrum, when two Bible-beliving, Jesus-loving people come to different conclusions over tertiary matters. Bottom line, we are going to have to find a way to make room for one another in the days ahead because there is something bigger than our personal preferences and individual comforts holding us together.

Here are some ways we can seek to make room for our brothers and sisters:

Be honorable to others.

For some, this will mean asking before extending a hug, for others, it will mean being charitable when your personal comforts are infringed upon. Because of our differing circumstances and experiences our responses will be various but this is nothing the church hasn’t faced before. When the early church faced division, that time over food, Paul reminded them, “Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” (Rom. 14:3)

Be marked by the humility to learn.

As T.S. Elliot rightly warned,

“when we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend to substitute emotions for thoughts.”

Be carful of this. Be quick to test, evaluate, converse with differing opinions, examine your own motives and emotions, and most importantly submit yourself to the Word of God.

Be constantly in pursuit of wisdom and discernment to skillfully handle whatever knowledge we do have with love and care. 

As Christians we know wisdom doesn’t come from our own wit or shrewdness. “The Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Prov.2:6) and we know he cares about how we use it, “He stores up success for the upright; he is a shield for those who live with integrity” (Prov. 2:7).

Lastly, be constant in prayer.

When God’s people ask for wisdom, he gives it (James 1:5). May we “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of [our minds], that by testing [we] may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

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