We need to be known. We need to hear other people. We need other people speaking Jesus back into your life, and we need other people to avoid collapsing in the vortex of a galaxy of one.
One pandemic leads to another. Because our lives are never compartmentalized, we can expect that the effects of a global epidemic will not be limited to the metrics of active cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. We know that natural disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires, have far more wide-sweeping and long-lasting consequences.
Covid-19 is no different. Hidden amidst the rubble of the disrupted and destroyed, we find a secondary and more discrete, yet nonetheless active, formidable and deadly pandemic thriving: a pandemic of loneliness.
It’s hardly as if loneliness was a minor issue before Covid. But even as a vaccine promises a light at the end of the tunnel, we are only beginning to discover how much the demon of Loneliness has grown. He has gorged, swollen, and strengthened himself during this past year. Like so many other ramifications of the pandemic, we see not so much the emergence of something brand new, but the acceleration of an existing trend. The phone in your hand has already been drawing people off to their separate corners for the past ten to fifteen years. Now the temptation to isolation has been reinforced and baptized as best practice, not just for yourself, but for society at large.
This is no criticism of masks, social distancing, zooming, isolation and quarantining. This simply is a call to acknowledge our spiritual dependency on community. The Bible doesn’t tell us how to navigate zooming vs. in-person, or family holiday traditions and gatherings. These take wisdom. The Bible does tell us we need not just a relationship with Jesus, but with other people as well.
I Peter 5: 8-9 describes our danger: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”