In a much-quoted passage in Hebrews we are commanded to ‘consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near’ (Heb. 10:24-25).
But when we can’t meet together because of the restrictions surrounding the coronavirus, how can we encourage one another and stir each other up to do good? Our Zoom get-togethers at church allow me to see the faces of all who join, even if I’m not very keen on looking at my own! On social media, a comment on someone’s feed might cheer them up. Sometimes a post suggests that a friend is going through a hard time and sending a private message might be the best thing you can do. There are more ways than ever to keep in touch with people online and I probably haven’t heard of half of them.
Think about someone in your church, young or old, who lives alone. Someone will have their contact details. It’s a bit old school, but why not pick up the phone and talk to them?
There are, however, people in any church who belong to a generation that finds computers bewildering! Old age or illness can be isolating at the best of times, never mind now. Others, for different reasons, come home to an empty house – or rarely leave home. The masked faces they see and their present fear of close contact makes them feel very much on their own. Today, I was talking to one lady who said an old friend with whom she would normally have a good gossip crossed the road rather than talk to her. Her pal was trying to maintain social distance but the lady was saddened by how relationships are changing.
How we treat people who are isolated like this is a mark of whether our religion is worthwhile. James says:
‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world’ (James 1:27).
Think about someone in your church, young or old, who lives alone. Someone will have their contact details. It’s a bit old school, but why not pick up the phone and talk to them? It may be a bit awkward at first. Maybe you don’t know what to say, but they’ll be glad you’ve shown an interest in them and you will benefit from the deeper friendships you make.
Be a person like Philemon, of whom Paul said:
‘I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.’ (Philem. 7)
Karl Smith, The Church of God in Kirkintilloch