It’s fascinating to me the way that this time in our world, this time in human history, is teaching us so much about each other. This time of quarantine has had this incredible power to reveal who we really are, at our core. Even among my own friends, I am learning who the introverts are, as they spend this time all curled up cozy in their houses with books and baking, not too upset to be without social obligations. I’m learning who the true extroverts are, the ones who are using this time to talk to as many people as they possibly can about anything and everything. And we are all learning who our true friends are, the ones we can talk to for hours about anything and everything, the ones we facetime just to share silence with when we get bored or sad (since there is nothing new or interesting going on in our lives to update them on).
But most importantly of all, this time is showing us who really understands the meaning of the words community, selflessness, empathy, and compassion.
The bottom line right now is that none of us WANT to stay locked up in our houses, missing out on precious moments with friends and family! But those of us committed to it are those with the ability to see beyond the present moment, to feel the pain of the suffering world, to cry tears along with those mourning and weeping.
My heart has been absolutely broken the past few weeks as I have seen how truly selfish our world has become. We’ve lost the ability to empathize with our fellow human beings so much to the point that we are willing to risk the lives of those around us, willing to carry a potentially fatal disease to someone’s grandparent, mother, sibling, or child, all because we want an iced latte. We are willing to negate the hard work of those on the front lines, working themselves to the bone and isolating themselves from their families, all because you are bored and want to see your friends??
And here is where I am going to get real honest, my friends — my heart breaks even more when I look at some members of the church community. I am a Christian, which means, simply, that I follow a man who stopped to weep with widows, a man who gave up a heavenly throne to live a life of pain and poverty, a man who was tortured on a cross like a criminal to save the world from sin and be an example of true love. And I am proud to be part of so many strong communities of faith and churches of people who have truly given their lives to Him.
But as the weeks go on, I am saddened by our response as a church. Jesus died on a cross to save us, but we can’t go without a barbeque or a haircut to avoid risking the lives of our brothers and sisters on earth? We are supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus, the instrument of His selfless love in a broken world, but when our comfort is challenged, we decide it’s ok to put people’s lives at risk because we want to see our friends or share a meal?? We are part of a faith that teaches sacrificial love and putting our neighbors before ourselves, and we are being called to do that now more than ever. But, it looks different. In this pandemic, sacrificial love means staying home when you’d rather be out. It means having a digital dinner party when you’d much rather have one in person. It means having a world view that expands beyond yourself and your daily life. It means giving up the things that we WANT to do so that others might have more years on this earth.
My friends, I know it is so hard to be walking through this time without our traditional, in-person community. We are all aching for connection. But we have a responsibility right now, as people of empathy and compassion, as people of faith, to lead by example and show the world what it means to truly put others first. As believers, we believe that our actions have power, and that one person can shift the life of another, for better or for worse. We have to start acting like it. We have to start holding each other accountable. We have to start calling each other out on our failings. We are being called to guide each other and the world toward sacrificial love. Are we going to do it? Or 20, 50, 100 years from now, when they write about us in history books, are we going to regret the way we lived and wish we had done more?