I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. Romans 1:11-12
As a physician, I am of course, in support of efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19. In making the pandemic a priority however, we’ve undeniably sacrificed other priorities to our own detriment. At the chemical dependency treatment center, where I work a few days a month, as I do the intake physicals, I usually share my story, asking the client to do the same. Many times, over the last several months, I’ve heard the story of furloughed workers, sitting at home with nothing to do. Unable to go to recovery meetings in person, but with liquor stores still open, they’ve relapsed, and they blame it on Covid-19 isolation.
An addict or alcoholic can’t blame all of his life problems on a virus, but in seeking recovery, the addict must be cognizant of those things which led to his relapse. When the alcoholic has excessive time on his hands, few responsibilities, and isn’t meeting with others who are pursuing sobriety, he’s exponentially more likely to return to the old destructive behaviors.
In today’s passage, Paul addressed the importance and purpose of meeting together. He said that in fellowshipping together, we can encourage each other, strengthening each other’s faith. Paul knew that we’ve been created to live and grow in community and he purposefully sought out the power found in his fellow Christians.
You don’t have to be an addict to realize this or to be affected by the isolation of Covid-19. For many of us, simply going to church has been an impossibility over a significant part of the last 9 months. We can and should watch online when possible, but that simply doesn’t do what meeting together in person does. We need each other.
Personally, I’ve realized I need my time with other Christians, encouraging and strengthening one another. So, even through Covid-19, I’ve continued to meet once a week with a few close brothers. I don’t live by faith or maintain recovery well on my own. I do it best in community with others who are going in the same direction I want to go. Even during a pandemic, I can continue that. Slowing the spread of a virus may be a priority, but it’s not a bigger priority than my faith or recovery.