Barely An Inconvenience?
The Pandemic… I wonder if many Christians are betraying our focus on our own comfort and privilege, and indeed entitlement, at the way we react to the Pandemic and many easings/changes to the ‘rules’?
This is my own reflection — I’m aware of many Christians and Church communities working incredibly hard to bless their local communities — supporting mental health, budgets with food and furniture, being a friendly face and a listening ear, making meals, volunteering at food banks, skills clubs and checking in on their neighbours.
Yet within the small city Christian community I’m a part of and more widely, I sense a withdrawal and even disgust with our culture, our city, our nation. We have a strong sense of persecution complex. We develop events to invite our friends to — but for the rest of the community, not so much. And this insularity spreads to the way we view and talk about the Pandemic.
We act like it’s not happening (*well to us and our immediate community anyway*). As soon as rules are relaxed, we squash together, throw off masks socially, and make much of not having been able to meet in a building to sing together — online is discarded as second best or positively ‘evil’. Our tone focuses on us not being able to go on holiday, to ski, to squash together socially in a pub, restaurant, coffee shop or church building with our friends or at enormous weddings, and yet does this not reveal our focus and our entitlement? Has the Pandemic been for us ‘an inconvenience’ rather than a slayer of millions and something which revealed huge disparities in education, access to resources, access to food supplies, access to WIFI and laptops, access to green spaces, even housing design, access to spare income for face masks, hand sanitiser; even more in the types of jobs people did (which either enabled them to stay home or not), and in the ways people travelled and got about to wide open green spaces. Not to mention access and willingness to take a jab.
In our distraction and play and disgruntlement, we truly seem to have forgotten the people behind the statistics, and we seem to be quite self-focused, in that so long as we can go back to normal, others’ suffering, (locally, nationally and globally), seems not to matter so much to us. Sad to say (as a community) we seem to be little interested in resolving some of the inequalities revealed in our nation such as educational provision (access to WIFI, mobile data and laptops), going beyond giving to food banks to work out why people are using them in the first place, and seeking to impact our wider local community beyond Universities with sports clubs, homework clubs, coding clubs or job/budgeting skills. Truly this isn’t every church, but it does seem to be a thing for the Christians I know.
Are we apathetic because we feel overwhelmed? Or because we equate action with social justice and the excesses of left wing politics? Or because we can’t see beyond ourselves to others unlike us and just want to go back to normal asap, the way things were before, the good old days, the Instagrammable? We seem keener to deep dive into Chesterton, Lewis and Lord of the Rings than to look around us and see the people Jesus wants us to care for at this painful current time.
I don’t want to be judgy and I know all the events and activities to invite our friends/neighbours/work colleagues to are well meaning; but this process of Pandemic living, in that for us, it is ‘super easy, barely an inconvenience’ disturbs me.
- *With credit to Screen Rant for the catchphrase*