We’ve all been sick at some point or another; some more so than others. During these times we are usually isolated from those in our social circles even family if the sickness is severe and extensive. However, most of us have never been isolated as is the case in our current situation. This is a period with which our generation is unfamiliar, especially in our country. We have the liberty to go wherever. We could see who we wanted, when we wanted and for how long we wanted. Now, all of that has been put on hold. I certainly do not aim to put our current situation on par with others in the world who have it worse, Covid19 notwithstanding. Neither is my aim to diminish the experiences of many among us today. This situation is not affecting everyone equally, but it is affecting everyone. My sincere hope is that we reach the end intact spiritually, mentally and physically. That being said, isolation has provided a benefit if you are paying attention. Isolation has helped me understand some things a little better and appreciate some things a little more. One concept isolation has highlighted is God’s Plan for social interaction.
We are social creatures by design, Scriptures proclaim it but isolation has illustrated it.Morne Stephanus
When God created man, He placed him in the garden and according to the scriptures, all was good except for one thing. And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him,” Genesis 2:18. The inspired historian gives more insight into this dilemma. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him, Genesis 2:20. Adam had the beasts of the field and the birds of the air in abundance, but he was lacking someone comparable to him. The animals could never provide Adam with spiritual or emotional support nor could the intellectual and social nature of man be satiated by them. Alone, man would also be void of the natural ability to propagate his species (Cf. Genesis 1:22-24 & 28) So, in an awesome display of Divine economy and foresight, God created someone that could fulfill all those aspects. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man, Genesis 2:21-22. Adam was provided someone who was like him, someone who could reciprocate his intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual needs. Furthermore, Adam could propagate mankind per the decree of God (Genesis 1:28) and by the decree of God, namely marriage (Genesis 2:23-25). The isolation of Adam was remedied by providing him another of his kind. We are social creatures by design, Scriptures proclaim it but isolation has illustrated it. We have a need and an innate desire to be around others. The plight of depression which can lead to suicide and other destructive tendencies further illustrates the need for being social. Physical and perceived loneliness is a precursor to depression says research associate of the psychology department at the University of Chicago, Dr. Louise Hawkley, Ph.D. (Vann, et al. 2012). The negative impact of social distancing (using the term generically) is therefore seen in the level of destruction it can cause.
Considering all this, it should not come as a surprise to find engraved in the law of New Testament Christianity the concept of fellowship. No, not the concept of agreement or harmony even though such is fellowship. Look further, look deeper at the illustrations and laws detailed in the New Testament. From eating together (Acts 2:42-47) coming together to pray (Acts 12:12) paying careful attention to one another and encouraging love and good works in one another (Hebrews 10:24-25). These cannot be accomplished when we abdicate the social aspect of New Testament Christianity. Just like it was not good for Adam to be alone it is not good for Christians to be alone. Spending quality time together builds relationships, encourages faithfulness, strengthens the weak, and supports the downtrodden. What a great comfort for Paul to be visited by friends while isolated from the brethren in prison (2 Timothy 1:16-18) and what a tremendous boost for Elijah to know He was not alone in the good fight (1 Kings 19:18). Being social is critical in carrying out our Divine mandates.
Our current state of isolation is temporary, and we fervently pray that its end is near. However, critical as it may be at this juncture isolation will harm people’s overall wellbeing. Mankind was not created to live in isolation. I hope we come away from this pandemic with more wisdom, more compassion, more appreciation and a strong distaste for social distancing. Isolation has provided some much-needed comprehension of God’s plan for social interaction.
Vann, By Madeline R., et al. “Dealing with Depression and Loneliness – Depression Center – Everyday Health.” EverydayHealth.com, www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression/depression-feeling-lonely/. 2012