Living in Community Amid the Spread of Coronavirus

Living in Community Amid the Spread of Coronavirus

Bob Martin

In this season of intensified messages and out-of-the-ordinary protocols, is there still a way to live life together? Can we still be living in community?

Two Attitudes: Anger & Anxiety

It’s easy to have one of two attitudes during this time. First, you may be angry. You may think that those who are discussing coronavirus (COVID-19) are blowing things out of proportion. Maybe you’re frustrated with the consequences of COVID-19 that you can’t control—like needing to work from home or cancel travel plans.

Alternatively, you might be anxious. What if this illness does end up affecting your family? What if your work is affected negatively? What if it’s more challenging to purchase certain items because of this heightened season of concern?
Where do we look when our hearts plunge into anger or anxiety?

Three Responses: Wisdom, Compassion, and Trust

Believe it or not, intense cultural moments are a time to platform the gospel. We want to first model wisdom in responding to health concerns and cultural concerns that merit attention:

  • Wisely protecting our bodies since they belong to God and not just us (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
  • Wisely serving other people and not just ourselves (1 Cor. 2:3-4)

Second, we ought to be the most compassionate people on earth. What’s your immediate reaction when you think of those who are physically more at risk for this illness? Is it apathy? What about those who have contracted it? Do you feel disdain or judgment? Just like our Lord showed compassion for those who were vulnerable and sick (Matt. 14:14), we need to lean into empathy and care instead of disdain or neglect.

Our third response is the most critical. There is one Refuge, King, and Great Physician: Jesus. He is in control as he “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). This is a hope that only Christians possess: we know that our King is in total control every day no matter what happens. We can trust him even if:

  • We need to wash our hands more often
  • We’re going stir crazy from being at home
  • Our family member contracts an unusual illness

We can trust him.

In fact, our trust can make us more than steady, it can make us glad! “For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work” (Psalm 92:4). We can choose to rejoice about extra time at home with family or that this intense season creates unusual opportunities to show others our dependence on Jesus and not on our circumstances.

New Ways to Live in Community

But what about living in community? If we are not physically gathering with our Small Group (or other meetups), how do we live life with others?

Perhaps our times of connecting won’t be conventional, but they are possible. I encourage you to view this as an opportunity to continue leaning into community in creative ways. Have you considered:

  • Texting brothers or sisters in your group about what to pray for them?
  • Setting up phone calls with people instead of getting together in person?
  • Using a video chat to do a “virtual” Small Group gathering?
  • Emailing encouraging blog posts to friends?

There are a number of ways to stay in communication, encourage one another, and help each other find hope together. Maybe you can help your Small Group friends with your post on social media sharing tips for kid-friendly at-home activities. Or maybe you can mail an encouraging letter to a friend—one that just might arrive in their mailbox at the perfect moment. You can even drop off groceries or a pre-baked dinner on someone’s front porch to bless an older couple that has decided to limit their grocery shopping.

A Unique Season

No one is going to deny it: this is a unique season. For most of us, this kind of threat feels utterly unusual. But God’s people are in fact very used to threats and fears—and they know exactly where to go for safety: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Ps. 91:1). No matter where you’ll be in this unique season, let’s all abide there.