Cushioning the collisions of self-isolation

Progressive deprivation brings our values to light. Most of us Canadians don’t have to think much or often about what we most want because we’re able to enjoy at least some of almost everything in Abraham Maslow’s famous “hierarchy of needs.”

When our worlds shrink, however, and keep shrinking, and we don’t know how much more they are going to shrink, we start to think about what matters. The whole world was, at least in theory, open to us. But then only Canada, and then only crucial stores and public parks, and now just our homes—and then our own sick bodies? We have an opportunity for wisdom, to sort out our priorities and focus on what, and who, matters most.

Christians turn to Scripture for instruction and inspiration. Can the Bible help us negotiate these weird, demanding days?

One of the several oddities in the writings of the Apostle Paul is his emphasis on the social. Paul writes very little about the political or the financial or the cultural. Even though he is well-educated and well-traveled, he provides next to no instruction about public life to the churches he leads. Instead, even though he can come across as stern, even severe, in letter after letter he repeats (of all things) the fundamental importance of love.

Paul seems to lack even a single sentimental bone in his body. So when he advocates love to the early Christian communities, he certainly cannot mean “manufacture warm affection for each other.” He is a rabbi, trained in the Hebrew Bible’s commands to love God and love the neighbour. These are not commands to somehow summon up kindly feelings, but to seek the welfare of the other, to put first the other’s interests.

Over and over, Paul sounds this theme:

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