By Ben Fiddian.
When I first heard the word “self-isolating” it made me smile. It seems like a very British thing to do! In other countries the government quarantine people. Maybe it will come to that here too but, for the moment at least, if we have symptoms we make the decision to stay away from other people. There is something unique about the scepticism and resistance British people sometimes show towards authority. Push too hard or too quick and we Brits are likely to react by doing the opposite of what we are told. Give us a sense that we are making the decision – we choose to isolate ourselves – so building the sense that we are coming together as a community for the greater good, and we will do it gladly and freely.
Many people feel that God has chosen to self-isolate from us. This is particularly true in times of suffering. Where is God when I hurt? Why won’t He reveal himself clearly? If He is good and has the power to help then why are we in this mess? We point the finger at God.
The perspective of the Bible is very different. In its opening chapters (Genesis 1-3) you can read the story of God creating people.
It says that God created people to be like Him:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”
It says that God created people to be blessed by Him:
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…
It says that God created people to be active in the world for Him:
…fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
It says that God created people to be dependent on God’s kind gifts:
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit.
It says that God created people to be wholesome and good:
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
It says that God created people to be workers for Him:
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
It says that God created people to be obedient to Him:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…
It says that God created people to be alive:
….for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
It says that God created people to be together:
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Lastly, it says that God created people to be with Him:
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day… the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
God did not create people because He was a lonely, isolated God. A lonely god is a scary idea – if he has been on His own for eternity past, even if (for some unfathomable reason) he decided to change and create people, the threat would always remain that he might revert to type and abandon us again.
But the God of the Bible is not a lonely God. He is the God of love. For all eternity He has existed as The Trinity: One God in three distinct but inseparable Persons: Father Son, and Holy Spirit in perfect, infinite, delight and affection. Loving community is not an optional ‘app’ that God downloads on to His phone but deletes when the memory card gets full. Loving community is essential to God’s very being, it always has been, and always will be. The Christian God of the Bible is not a Trinity, He is The Trinity: uniquely, eternally and infinitely relational. There is nothing else quite like Him anywhere in existence!
The Bible does not teach that God has ‘self-isolated’ from us. Quite the opposite. We have isolated ourselves from Him. It also teaches that God is actively working to bring people out of their self-imposed spiritual isolation! What a wonderful message for such a time as this!
Ben is part of the lecturing team at the Faith Mission Bible College
Follow his blog at https://fidzbit.blogspot.com/