Written by Cat Dieaconu.
It’s been a year since the first lockdown and, during this pandemic, one of the most common words we heard or used was and still is “distance”, mainly referring to the social-distancing that people have to keep from one another.
In contrast, more than ever, I realise how important and vital the community is. We weren’t created by God to be isolated, but in His image, to have relationships and always be surrounded by people. When we look at the Trinity, we clearly see through the entire Bible the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit being always in perfect communion and unity - both characteristics reflected in Jesus’ famous prayer (John 17) when He publicly prayed for His disciples to be one, like the Father and the Son are. Jesus tried to teach and inspire us that “community” is vital in everyone’s life.
We all want so much to (re)connect with our extended family, friends, work colleagues, school mates and our brothers & sisters in Christ. Spending time with one another and praying & worshiping together - this is something that we all long so much for, right now. We weren’t created to be alone or distanced from each other, but in communion with God and each other. I miss so much when we had lunch together as a church or having fun by doing outdoor activities with my connect group. Its a unique feeling when you authentically feel part of community.
Jesus spent time with His disciples for more than three years, doing both spiritual and ordinary things such as: praying and worshiping together, going to church and serving others together, but also travelling, hiking and camping together, fishing, barbecuing and eating together. Peter was one of the three closest friends of Jesus and despite that, during a crisis (Luke 22:54–62, NIV), he “followed Jesus at a distance". The Gospel writers Mathew, Mark & Luke are meticulously describing the attitude of Peter at this critical point as “following Jesus from afar off” (KJV). But how far? Peter, attracted by the warmth of a fire, was right up to the door of the high priest’s courtyard, hanging out with people gathered to insult the Lord.
Following Jesus at a distance led Peter to sit at a distance - he was in the right place, having sight of the Saviour, but being in the wrong crowd. We all know the rest of the story - Peter gave up his loyalty by denying Jesus and then also began to curse and swear like the crowd that he associated with.
Easter is around the corner and instead of criticising Peter, why not learn from his failure followed by a genuine repentance? At this point of crisis, with the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, how am I following Jesus? At a distance or closely?
Who do I sit with when I fail? With the people of God or with the wrong crowd?
Let's follow Jesus closely in our spiritual journey, not at a distance, and despite the physical social-distance we are imposed to keep between us, let us be relational and intentional in keeping each other close, connecting constantly on virtual platforms - building each other up in our faith and helping one another to grow spiritually in order to be a light and salt in our society.