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How to Thrive in Isolation

  • Bryon Mondok
  • April 23, 2020
  • Articles
How To Thrive In Isolation

How to Thrive in Isolation

How to Thrive in Isolation

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I can’t do it anymore. I’ve run out of excuses for putting off those tasks on my wife’s “honey-do” list. The global pandemic has refocused me.

The same goes for Scott, my next door neighbor. When we’re both out working in the yard, we often talk about projects around the house, work, sports, and classic rock. But now Scott wants to talk about other stuff.

“You’re a man of the cloth,” Scott said to me one afternoon as we spoke across our invisible fence created by a social distancing compliant buffer zone between us. “Do you think this thing is from God?”

“You mean in an ‘end-of-the-world-apocalyptic’ kind of way?” I asked. “How God works is way beyond me figuring out.”

I was floored by the question. I’ve shared a little about my church and missions background with Scott when I first moved in, but the subject was changed to golf or guitars pretty quickly. So I haven’t pushed it. But now Scott is asking questions.

God has the world’s attention.

In the most unreligious way I could, I explained to Scott that bad things have happened throughout human history. He nodded in agreement. “I think God uses occasions like this to get our attention,” I said. “What do you think?”

He paused to put some thought into his answer. “I think God wants things to work like a two-way street.” God deserves our attention was the essence of Scott’s response.

I could not wait to get back into the house to tell my wife about my conversation with Scott and his openness to see God at work in a season of crisis.

Yesterday, when I went outside to say hi to Scott, he greeted me with, “Hey, let’s pick up where we left off.”

God has Scott’s attention.

Exhortations from Lockdown

Paul, the missionary, ended up in jail. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon were written during his incarceration.

He couldn’t plan to speak at gatherings like he did at Mars Hill.

He couldn’t plan a mission trip like he did in the book of Romans.

He couldn’t disciple people in the market place.

But in lockdown, Paul did what he always did. He made the most of the moment. He explored, exploited, expounded, and explained every relationship and turned every conversation into a teachable moment. At some level, everyone wants to know about God. Paul found a way to connect and expose the part of a person that wants to know God no matter how deep or shallow that desire is buried. He unearthed it.

Paul discovered the entry point where God was invading the moment. And he became a friend. He was the kind of guy you want to be to your next door neighbor.

New Testament theologian N.T. (Tom) Wright had this to say about our role as regular Christians in everyday life:

“[What] matters is that Christians, like actors all focusing single-mindedly on the play, should focus completely on the divine drama that has unfolded before their eyes in Jesus the king, and continuing now into its final act with themselves as the characters. Bringing their thinking into line with each other wouldn’t be any good if they were thinking something that was out of line with the gospel. The love that they must have is the love that the gospel generates and sustains. Their inner lives, which are bonded together, must be inner lives that reflect the gospel. The ‘same object’ which they must fix their minds on must be the facts about Jesus the Messiah, and the meaning which emerges from them.” (quote from Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters – p. 99).

For a little while, the pressure to evangelize, build numbers, and invite people to church is off. The mission these days is to be a good neighbor and contagious Christian wherever God has placed you on the planet.

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