Next month on March 11 it will have been a year since the first recorded case of Covid-19 in the state of Arkansas. The coronavirus pandemic became a reality as businesses, schools, places of recreation, and even church buildings were closed for a while. Since that time precautions have been put in place and many businesses, schools, and places of recreation are now open with limited capacity and Covid-19 precautions in order. Two of the precautions that have been in order for almost a year now in most states are social distancing and the wearing of the nose and mouth covering, or that is wearing a mask. Some of the most vulnerable because of their underlying conditions have been able to have very limited face to face meeting with other people. Those that do meet face to face in public settings normally wear face coverings either to comply with the regulations or for health concerns, and or both reasons. The social distancing and covering of the face may bring to mind what some of the inspired biblical authors wrote concerning their desire to see their brethren.
John wrote “Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink, but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full” (2 John 12). John did write a letter because it was needed for their spiritual encouragement at that moment, but what he really desired to do was to be with the brethren “face to face” and as he wrote “that our joy my be full”. There is a more complete joy that comes about when human beings are able to be together “face to face”. The coming together face to face to worship, for Bible study, or simply to converse provides an encouragement that can not be found by any other means. The online Bible studies and preaching lessons are wonderful and enable us to continue to have that spiritual and emotional contact and at the same time delve into God’s Word but being together “face to face” is the most rewarding. Paul also wrote to brethren about his desire to see them face to face. He wrote to the Romans “For I hope to see you on my journey…” (Romans 15:24) and “that I may come to you with joy by the will of God and be refreshed together with you” (Romans 15:32). Paul also wrote to Timothy “Do your utmost to come before winter…” (2 Timothy 4:21). It is evident that these two apostles desired to be with their brethren “face to face” so that their joy could be made complete and they could be refreshed or encouraged together.
Each Christian must analyze their own physical condition and situation regarding the coronavirus and to what degree they should be among other people in a precautionary manner or not at all. Whatever the decision would be precaution must be taken individually and spiritually so as not to lose the desire that John and Paul expressed and that of the desire to be with other Christians face to face. If that desire is fading away within the heart of you or me then we must do what is necessary to recapture that longing: Bible study, prayer, communication with other brethren, and even precautionarily being present for worship. Each one must consider their own physical and spiritual condition. May we never lose the desire to come together face to face.