No man is an island – an idea that has been put to the test in light of our current pandemic. If we are not islands, what are we? We are human beings, created in the image of God. As God said to Adam, “It is not good that the man should be alone…” We were made for relationship.
For many of us, this pandemic means the opportunity to spend more time with our families. This of course amplifies the joys of family life, but the difficulties as well. It’s much harder to hide or distract ourselves from problems when someone else is always there.
For the single person, we are entering uncharted territory. The present situation will likely reduce the prevalence of hook-up culture. A recent news article titled, “Is It Ok if We Hug?” outlines best practices for those dating in the pandemic. Everything is more complicated now. Even for those (like many clergy) who have chosen a life of celibacy, it is still difficult to stay connected with friends.
Certain social structures and meeting places have become unstable. Going to a bar or restaurant is a higher risk than it was before. More than ever, people understandably feel most comfortable around those they already know. In light of all this, people with stable families and communities, like the church, to support them have much to be thankful for.
To be sure, family and church are not the cure-all for societies’ woes. Marriages sometimes fail, and all families are full of brokenness. The same is true for churches. Churches are full of the redeemed, but even the redeemed are still sinners. As the old joke says, “If you find a perfect church, don’t join. You’ll ruin it.”
But even with those qualifications in mind, it is important to remember the benefits of the family and the church. In terms of family, countless studies have shown the majority of married people are happier, healthier, and have more financial stability on average than those who are not.
Church has also been shown to have many similar benefits including: lower risk of depression and suicide, healthier marriages, lower blood pressure, longer life, and even better sleep! However; similar studies have been done concerning social interaction more generally with similar results. If the only things the church has to offer can be found anywhere else, why go to church?
More than anything else, what the church has to offer is the forgiveness of sins. In our call-out culture where shaming is the norm, there is only one place where you will hear that God will “pardon and deliver you from all your sins” in Christ. To be baptized into Christ Jesus is to be part of this new community. A new family knit together in one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. The church is the temple of God – the place where God promises his forgiving presence in word and sacrament. As Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
As those who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, where better to become more like him than with those who are also seeking to become like him? Through the ministry of word, sacrament, and prayer we are all able to receive Christ and be transformed into his image – in community. It is in the church that Christians experience “the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16). Even in the midst of a pandemic, and when it is safe and wise for you, continue to engage with your families, communities, and church. Christ has promised that he will build his church, and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
— David Svihel
David Svihel serves as St. John’s Minister with Youth. He is a graduate of Boyce College and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently studying Reformation and Anglican theology at Trinity School for Ministry. Before coming to St. John’s in 2017, David spent time serving as a missionary in Poland, teaching Bible studies for students in California, and as Associate Youth Minister in Kentucky.