1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
This biblical challenge and encouragement seem a bit difficult in a time where we are trying to create physical distancing in the current pandemic. Yet people are designed to have human interaction, to take time and make time to encourage/engage each other. As this pandemic is coming upon the year mark, an even greater risk has risen. It is the emotional and mental health issues that have risen due to all the isolation, quarantining, and social distancing. The reality of the toll of all this distancing is coming out in different articles and on the news. Depression is on the rise as well as teen suicide. People are self-medicating to numb themselves of all the frustration and lack of human interaction.
One help is to do what we can to engage others: to have a moment where we share a word or two, to talk and interact. I am reminded of a moment like this a while back where I was out for my usual tacos on Taco Tuesday. I noticed a very agitated guy outside fiddling with his cell phone, seemingly exasperated with something. He was stomping around, blurting out what looked like expressions of frustration. He did not seem to be struggling with some of the usual signs of someone we see who is dealing with some form of mental illness, but just seemed to be having a very bad day. Most people avoided the guy, not making eye contact, walking far away from him, yet a little engagement from a young boy seemed to change the whole scene. A mom with two kids in tow was walking into the restaurant. The youngest was an infant who was taking most of her attention. The other child was walking and holding her hand. As this mom stopped to attend to something with the infant, the boy was just a few feet away from the frustrated man. The boy looked at the man and said something to him. I don’t know what was said, but the man seemed to be yanked out of his mood and smiled at the boy. The boy smiled and said something else and was led away by his mom who did not even seem to notice the exchange. The man put his phone away and seemed more at peace. I did not need to know what was said, for it was clear that little kid’s engagement made a difference.
Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
When we take it upon ourselves to engage people in our community, we love our neighbors as Jesus commanded (see Matthew 22:35-40). These actions of love are engaging in a world of distance. What could you do, yes, safely, to engage your world?
Church can be not only a place of engagement but a catalyst for us to engage our world. If you don’t already have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to view or visit Neighborhood Church. We have a 9am live-stream gathering from our Cypress campus and another pre-recorded gathering at our Los Alamitos campus. At 10:30am, at the Cypress Campus, we have an in-person, outdoor gathering (Los Al has one at 9am at their campus). Our webpage has information on how to connect with us or you can find us online at neighborhoodchurch.com. As well, if you would like to view any of our past worship gatherings or videos, visit our YouTube channel, or just search Neighborhood Church Cypress or Neighborhood Church Los Alamitos on their YouTube site.
Seeking to engage this world of distance along with you,