Brian Lee on Social Distancing for the Temple of God

Social distancing: a viral term that has spread as quickly as the coronavirus itself during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Christians, we are commanded to practice social distancing of a different kind: we are warned to keep a safe distance from another type of virus, one that is also global, contagious, and one that does not originate from flesh and blood: the virus of lawlessness, darkness, Belial (wickedness or worthlessness), or unbelief. 2 Corinthians 6: 14 – 16 says:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…

“Do not be unequally yoked” is often associated as a warning for Christians not to marry a non-Christian, a non-believer. While true, it has a broader and more significant application: it warns Christians as a whole not to be married or joined together with the world and its values. Keep a safe distance. Just as unequally yoked oxen would go in circles, not able to perform the task before them on a field, Christians who are yoked with unbelievers cannot perform the mission of Christ before them, for they are at odds with each other.

The Virus of Self-Identity

But the word “unbeliever” can also mean a Christian who is not faithful to Christ, whose identity is not in Christ but in their ethnic, gender, or sexual identity, or in their job, family, talents and gifts. The Greek word for unbeliever is ápistos, which literally means “not faithful” and describes anyone who is faithless, one who rejects God’s truth and sound doctrine. This is the narrative of God’s people in the Bible: from Adam and Eve, the nation of Israel, Simon Peter denying Christ, the early Church in Paul’s letters, or most of the seven churches in the book of Revelation, the people of God have yoked themselves with unbelievers or had experiences of unbelief, unfaithfulness.

Given that this is the trope of our existence as God’s people through the ages, are we any different? Ethnic, gender, sexual, political, vocational, relational and social “ID’s”: identity and idols permeate the Church today. When we do not emphasize or elevate our identity in Christ, we are ápistos: not faithful to Christ, “unbelievers”, through yoking ourselves to the world and ultimately to ourselves, where secularism, self-interest, and self-identity have infected our bodies, the temple of God, like a virus. “For our battle is not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12), which is why the pandemic of the virus of self-identity and unbelief has always been global, invisible, and contagious. We continue to live in a data-driven, brand-obsessed, platform-minded, demographic-influenced world that has infiltrated the lives and values of the Church.

We have more Christian books, conferences, podcasts and content than ever before. Yet how much of this content has been yoked with the world? Much of the content is more humanitarian than Trinitarian; more “social” than spiritual, or what Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls “moralism without the Gospel”. We hear more about elevating voices, platforms of individuals or groups than hear about elevating and giving platform to the name of the Living God. We talk about shared spaces and equality, without hardly a mention about creating space in our minds and bodies for the Holy Spirit’s rightful place, where there is no equality: “Hear O Israel (or Church), the LORD your God is ONE” (DEUT 6:4; MARK 12:29). There is no equal.

We are all guilty of this in our daily lives in one way or another, and praise God for His mercy, patience, forgiveness, steadfast love. But we are to respond by living lives of self-denial, self-distancing, and live lives of repentance, with clean hands (be sure you sanitize) and a pure heart before Him and one another.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brian Lee