FAIRBANKS

First A.M.E. Church 

Isolate

“Bringing us closer together even though we have been instructed to stay farther apart” 

A new crisis always seems to bring new buzzwords. Thanks to extreme weather phenomena like Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters, we now know that “global warming” might be a thing. We are also familiar with terms like “El Niño” and “polar vortex”. When the real estate market collapsed, we all learned what an “adjustable rate mortgage” and a “short sale” meant. The war on terror gave us terms like “jihad” and “active shooter.” Additionally, with a little thought, we may be able to differentiate between fully indoctrinated “home grown terrorists” and “state sponsored” ones. Unfortunately, today is no different. The coronavirus has brought us a constant stream of reminders to wash our hands, cover our mouths and to keep our distance. Add to that the fact that this virus is now the number one cause of death in America, and you might have just barely managed to outdo our dear mothers who were constantly reminding us to practice good personal hygiene. Without a known cure for COVID-19, cleanliness is not just next to godliness, it is downright saving lives! The fact seems very clear to most people that our behavior and personal conduct has become extremely important as there is strong possibility of serious near-term repercussions for failing to take the necessary precautions. That is why we are quickly coming to grips and fully embracing “social distancing,” otherwise called, “staying away from folks.”

Physical distancing is considered the best available means to “flatten the curve of the pandemic” -- meaning slowing down the spread of a disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from one another, not gather in groups, and stay out of crowded places. While this is my first pandemic, I am no stranger to social distancing. Technology has gradually moved us further and further apart. It was a choice we made. Now that some choices have been taken away, people are looking for ways to reconnect with each other on a personal level. I cannot overlook some of the struggles and challenges we are experiencing, and I would like to offer a few suggestions of relationship building both for now and in the future. These ideas work on our human skills and our spiritual growth, so I urge you to apply them liberally. We can all become better relationship builders by clearing our minds and practicing a few basic necessary acts.

God has given me a simple formula to apply to all my relationships that I am working to improve. The formula is based on the word “isolate.” Each letter of the word represents an area that can be improved upon when it comes to relationships. Here is how it breaks down: 

“I” -individual. Just like there is no “I” in team, there are no individuals in relationships. A relationship is a team effort and should be approached as such. The first step in cultivating a rich relationship is relating as a team. A good friend of mine always says, there is no such thing as a “Lone Ranger” Christian. Even he had Tonto and they worked as a team. The Bible also warns about being careful about who you team up with.  2 Corinthians 6:14 reads: 14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?

“S”- Separation. We must strive to separate ourselves from the things that the person with whom we are in relation with would find to be offensive. We can’t use the excuse, “I’ve got to be me.” In the case of God, He has made it clear that sin is not acceptable. The only relationship we are building is an adversarial one if we continue behaviors that trouble the ones, we hope to create a strong bond with.

“O”- Organize our pleasure. We must be methodical in finding and carrying out actions that are enjoyable for us and pleasing to the other parties in the relationship. It is important to invest our happiness in their happiness.  Nehemiah 8:10 reminded the people of what they had with God. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

“L” -Love is key. John 15:13 -13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You may not have to die for your relationship, but you must remember what’s in your heart is what is going to come out of your mouth. Luke 6:45 -45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

“A” -Abandon fear. A lot of the miscues in relationships are driven by fear and doubt. These feelings will cause us to question our ability to trust. For this reason, we remember 2 Timothy 1:7 - 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

“T” -Talk because communication is vital. If we are talk with God, we are praying. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

“E” -Exercise your faith because without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:5 says: 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 

Additional scriptures related to this topic

Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone…”

Proverbs 18:24 “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin… “

Ephesians 4:2-3 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.