A friend recently shared, “It feels weird to love people by distancing oneself from them physically”. The precautions against COVID-19 are necessary, but our physical disconnection can make it seem more difficult to love people. In particular, it may feel more difficult to love them by sharing the hope we have in Jesus. Fortunately, social distancing doesn’t mean social disconnection. Here are three thoughts on how we can share Jesus with people in this season.
First, be a non-anxious presence. Nowadays, COVID-19 takes up a lot of oxygen in our conversations, whether in person or online. People communicate frustration at forced changes to routines and plans, and anxiety over things that we can’t control. Whilst it’s important to acknowledge burdens, they can also become all consuming. Part of our Christian witness is our belief in the sovereignty and goodness of God. This belief should give us a poise and confidence during uncertain circumstances, a voice of calmness amidst all the anxious noise.
Second, demonstrate thoughtful care. In your conversations with people, be attentive to the needs they’re expressing. Listen well to their concerns. Perhaps there are some practical needs that you can meet. More commonly, people simply want their anxieties to be acknowledged.
Another aspect of our Christian witness is that we demonstrate our confidence in our sovereign God through prayer. During your conversation, offer to pray (and then make sure you do, although it doesn’t have to be in person). You may say something like this, “It sounds like you’ve got a lot on your mind. If it’s ok, I’ll pray for you”. Yes, this may seem awkward, but you can push past that. The worst that can happen is that your friend declines the offer, but it’s more likely you’ll find them grateful for your concern.
Third, share a reason for your hope. The Apostle Peter says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). This preparedness doesn’t mean giving a slick presentation. Peter is more likely talking about a simple and sincere insight into your confidence in God. What difference does being a Christian make to you? “The gospel teaches me that God loves me far more than I realise. It gives me a sense of comfort in difficult times.”
In these times of uncertainty, we have great opportunities to share of the certain hope have in Jesus.