If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15
Well, it is finally over and I am glad. I recently discovered this COVID thing is a pain in the neck. I didn’t have it and I guess a metaphorical pain in the neck is not one of the official symptoms. What I did get to discover is what happens when it gets close. I also discovered that when COVID comes knocking it’s gonna mess with your normal—like it or not.
A little over a couple of weeks ago, one of our church staff members tested positive for the virus. When that was reported to the health department it messed with my normal—our normal. First, because our entire staff had been in a room with the positive case, we all were placed on quarantine. Like it or not, stomp your foot if you want—we were locked up for two weeks. Fortunately, no one else got it and today the office at church will be back open. Yay. Second, because there were several other cases spread across the church family, most not related in any way, we had to go to remote worship for a couple of weeks. This Wednesday and Sunday we should be back on campus. Yay.
If you haven’t experienced the quarantine thing…count your blessings. You might ask, “Dewayne, what was it like?” Well, I guess it depends on your perspective. I know it was personally frustrating. I found myself telling whoever would listen that I didn’t have time to be quarantined. Of course, being the creative guy that I am, I found a few ways to work around it while not being around people but that is my secret. Smile.
I think I came away with a better understanding of the impact this has on the lives of people—and not just those who test positive. The isolation and the stigma reminded me of what lepers must have gone though in the Bible. They had to live apart from everyone one else and should they encounter someone they had to holler out, “Unclean, unclean.” Well, I didn’t encounter anyone so I didn’t do much hollering, but I did wonder when I saw someone from a distance, “What if they knew I was on lock up? Would they would treat me differently?” And I decided that they would. I also decided it would hurt my heart.
I wonder how many people we encounter in our walk about world who have been beaten up and scarred by the world who feel the same way? Do our stares and our intentional avoidance cause them to hurt? I bet it does. You know, our eyes and body language sometimes speak louder than our words. I love the fact that Jesus never avoided the broken ones around Him. If they had leprosy, He would love them and touch them. If they were outcast by society because they were prostitutes or tax collectors, He would love them and touch them. If they were Romans soldiers who nailed people to crosses—even Him to His—He would love them and touch them if He could. I like that…a lot.
COVID gets all the attention now and I guess that’s to be expected. There’s a lot of positive cases going around. Businesses are hurting, families are stressing, and people are filled with fear. What should we do? What can we do? Well, if you are a Jesus follower, the answer is do what He would do. Touch them and love them. I know you can’t always physically touch them, but you can reach out with the compassion and love of Jesus. It is amazing how a kind word or gesture can bring comfort, assurance and acceptance.
Like I said, the quarantine for our staff is over and it has been a learning experience. What is not over is the virus. What is not over is the brokenness in our world—however big or small that world may be. What is not over is the need for Jesus people to be like Jesus. He said that if we really love Him, we should keep His commands. And there are two that are at the top of His list—love God and love people. One of the best ways to show our love for God is to show His love for those He created. All of them. Social status, skin color, or whatever label we tend to put on them just doesn’t matter. So, when you bump into someone today, either from a distance or up close, be sure and love them like Jesus and leave the details to God. You can rest in this one essential, nonnegotiable fact: He’s got this.