Social Welcoming

It seems that each day, a new phrase is added to our vocabulary. Phrases like “social distancing” and “shelter in place” convey the new reality we face of isolation for the purpose of protection. The Coronavirus has changed the way we look at our world over the past month.

I discovered a new phrase today. CAREMONGERING.

As opposed to fearmongering, or scaremongering, this is a time when the church needs to step up as caremongerers.

This phrase is gaining steam on social media, originating in Canada, spreading to the United States, and hopefully beyond. Great stories of caremongering are surfacing.

One young man, Jonny Blue, stood on the street corner in Southern California holding up a sign that read, “Share your toilet paper.” Cars passing by honked in agreement. Some began to bring Jonny toilet paper in a drive by drop off, which he then shared with others who stopped to say they were out and had run to several stories looking for toilet paper, to no avail. Who would have ever imagined just two weeks ago that a “Share your toilet paper” sign would make someone a community hero.

In a season of “social distancing,” how can we as the church practice “social welcoming?” To revisit the decades old phrase, “What Would Jesus Do?”

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And a second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:37-40

“Social distancing” was practiced two thousand years ago. Jews were to keep their distance from an assortment of people… lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, and Samaritans to name a few. Yet Jesus practiced caremongering rather than fearmongering. Jesus practiced social welcoming rather than social distancing.

The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”

Matthew 11:19

In Sonlife’s Foundations Seminar, the sixth foundational priority from the ministry of Jesus that we teach on is RELATIONSHIPS of Love and Integrity.  There we look at a long list of the people Jesus loved: the leper, the widow, drunkards and sinners, the disenfranchised, the sexually immoral, children, the poor, the wealthy and powerful, the physically handicapped, criminals, those who would reject Him, and those who killed Him. Jesus practiced social welcoming. Jesus loved people.

By speaking of “social welcoming,” I’m not suggesting we be careless or reckless, ignoring guidelines and best practices for the spread of this disease. This is not a time to be careless, but it is also not a time to care less. What does it look like to “love your neighbor as yourself” in the midst of this growing global pandemic?

Chief among the “one another” commands from the Bible is “love one another,” which appears in the Scriptures sixteen times. All the other “one another” commands of Scripture flow out of loving one another. Here are a few “one anothers” that are important for us to remember if we’re going to practice caremongering.

  1. Pray for One Another (James 5:16)

Take the opportunity to reach out to those who are feeling overwhelmed. Call them. FaceTime them. And pray WITH them. Prayer works. God answers prayer. God’s presence and peace will be felt when we pray. Praying with others will bring them comfort and encouragement.

2. Serve One Another in Love (Galatians 5:13)

See a need. Meet a need. It’s that simple! 
Open your eyes- see the need. 
Open your heart- have compassion for others. 
Open your hands- do what you can to help.

3. Be Kind and Compassionate to One Another (Ephesians 4:32)

Kindness is love in action. Kindness speaks to the attitude we have toward others. Another phrase is circulating the Twitterverse: #Coronakindness. During this time of high stress, our emotional capacity for compassion can become diminished. We need to regularly check our heart. If our heart is closed off toward others, we need to spend time with the Father and ask Him to fill us with His love. “We love, because He first loved us.” 

4. Stop Passing Judgement on One Another (Romans 14:13)

We judge those who aren’t taking the Coronavirus seriously enough. We judge those who are overreacting to the Coronavirus. We judge others’ actions. We judge others’ words. Let’s stop judging, and start loving. If we’re concerned about how someone else is reacting or responding to the Coronavirus, let’s have a loving conversation with them. Let’s listen. Let’s hear their heart. Let’s love.

5. Speak to One Another with Psalms (Ephesians 5:19)

God’s Word is a source of great comfort, strength, and encouragement in these unsettling times. What are some of your favorite Scriptures? Who can you share them with. Copy and paste some of your favorite verses from the YouVersion Bible App and text them to friends who need to hear those words from God. His truth will steady their heart in this storm.

6. Carry One Another’s Burdens (Galatians 6:2)

We are all carrying burdens right now. We are all faced with myriad questions of how the Coronavirus crisis will affect our families, jobs, and churches. For many of us, the burdens are too great to carry alone. We need each other. We are better together. Being mindful of the burdens others are feeling and facing is the first step toward carrying one another’s burdens. It’s called empathy. It gives birth to compassion. It’s at the very heart of caremongering!

So, let’s all find somebody to love today. That’s what Jesus would do!