When God created the earth and placed human beings on this planet His intentions were that they would multiply and live peacefully together.
It was not in God's Plan that we all would live as individuals in our own little cocoon or bubble, isolated from the rest of the world.
2020 was a year where we were forced to go in isolation. Even to honour God and to have religious services we had to find means to have celebrations and Breaking of bread, without being together.
We once were a society that centred around family. Multiple generations often lived together under one roof and when families did live separately, they never moved very far. There always have been events to celebrate with each other. Often people looked for reasons to come together and have fun with each other in group. These days, we have become more of an individualistic culture. Most people today rely on themselves. In previous generations members of a family often came to live not so far away from the other members. Today, work has required many to live far away from where they were raised. Our connections with other people take place most often in the workplace. But those connections are usually shallow, fickle, and short lived.
In the church, we see this sense of individualism and disconnectedness as well. In certain countries people are obliged to move around because their work. They therefore do not have anymore what they would call their "own church". Some may stake a claim on a church but remain distant and on the margins, attending only when something better isn't going on. And then there are those who may indeed have a committed relationship with a church but they are not all in. They aren't fully known by their community. They don't rely on the Body when they are struggling or in need. Instead, they wear masks that cover the pain of their lives, pretending that everything's okay, even though it's not.
This year literally masks had to be covering our face. All over the continent religious people could not come together anymore to have a worship service together. Now the individualism and doing life on our own is not part of God's design. In creating
mankind, God desired for us to participate in that community which in this corona period could not be realised in real life, but had to happen in virtual meetings.
Jehovah didn't create man to be in community with him alone. After he created the world and Adam, God said,
"It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him" (Genesis 2:18).
God created man and woman to be in community together, to create families and live together, bearing the image of God.
Scripture is all about community. God chose the Israelites to be his people.
"And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people" (Leviticus 26:12).
They lived and worshipped him together in community. Following the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, God then instituted the church, the Body of Christ as a community of believers.
"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." (1 Corinthians 12:27).
This year, we as members of our church-community were not able to come together in real life with our brothers and sisters. But thanks to the contemporary electronica we were blessed to be able to meet by all those modern electric tools. Several electronic applications made it possible that we even could meet with more people from all over the world.
Being made to live in a humble, worshipful, and loving dependency upon God and in a loving and humble interdependency with others, we could share our union with Christ.
Not only were we created to be in community but we also need community. When we can come together we can share ideas and strengthen each other in our way of thinking and handling. In a way there is also social control. We need godly brothers and sisters to watch our back. We need to be connected in community where we can all be on alert together for the dangers that are all around us.
The truth is, we need each other. We need to trust, rely on, and depend upon other believers. God gave us each other to walk alongside, encourage, and spur one another one in the faith. The writer to the Hebrews says,
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
James 5:16 says,
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."
We are to carry each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2), care for each other's practical needs (Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:16), warn each other of sin (1 Thessalonians 5:14) and rejoice and mourn with each other (Romans 12:15).
Though society might tell us that we can do life on our own, God's word tells us that we simply can't function without each other (1 Corinthians 12). We need each other and we need community. But we should know that in these times of the coronavirus we need to be careful not to bring others in danger, creating possibilities to infect each other.
At the moment we still do have to keep to the corona measures to keep everybody safe. We should not claim as some other Christians and certain Jews do that we have to have the religious freedom to have our worship and praise services in group. There are the meeting tools like Zoom, Meats, HouseParty, Jitsi, Hangouts, Google Meets, a.o. to join a virtual meeting. Lets make use of them for still some more months. And lets hope that from September onwards we shall be able to have again a normal life with many people, able to go to shops, restaurants, hotels and other places, like going back to a prayer hall or church.
Even when not created to be on our own, for the time being we shall have to be happy to keep it cosy in our small corona bubble.