Stay at home, social distancing, and being quarantined are nothing new. This, through no fault of our own, is where many of us have been placed and these certainly are not our preferred way of living. Staying home, avoiding human contact and becoming quarantined is a result that’s either forced on us or chosen by us. However, for Christians, these situations don’t need to be overly stressful or unbearable.
Paul said in Philippians 4:11 that he’d learned to be content in all circumstances, and finished with his conclusion in Philippians 4:13 “I have strength for all situations in union with him who empowers me.” The “him” who empowers, is Christ, and it is Christ with whom we are in union as Christians. Many Bible versions translate this verse rather loosely. For example, the NAS reads, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Taken out of context, this verse has been used to encourage some believers that they can do anything and that nothing is impossible for them. This seems so wrong on quite a few levels.
I’m 5’8” and semi-retired. Does anyone see any real possibility that I could make it as an NBA player? And for anyone who thinks that an NBA career is something I might attain, what if 2,000 other men my age committed themselves to pursue playing in the NBA? Would the NBA then have 2,000 senior citizens in the league? No, because we cannot do all things. Thinking about context and translation will help us to understand this section. Here is just a small a portion of the REV Commentary on this verse. “Philippians 4:13 is not a call to arrogance and our ability-what “we” can do through Christ-rather, it is a call to humility and the realization that because we are in union with Christ and being empowered by Christ, we can deal with life’s situations no matter how difficult they may be.”
Here’s a quick list of people in the Bible who were quarantined or “separated from others”, in one way or another, some by force and some by choice.
Joseph was quarantined in an Egyptian jail, under false accusation, by force. (Genesis 39:20)
Later, the entire nation of Israel was quarantined in Egypt as a slave nation, by force. (Exodus 1:8-14)
Another Joseph (Mary’s husband) was told by God to not stay at home but to create social distancing from King Herod and self-quarantine in Egypt with his family which included the young Messiah, Jesus (Matthew 2:13-15). Joseph’s obedience to God was a choice.
Death is the ultimate quarantine. Jonah was dead 3 days in the belly of the fish, came back to life temporarily only to eventually die like everyone else who’s lived. Lazarus was dead 4 days in the tomb, came back to life temporarily only to eventually die like everyone else who’s lived. Finally, Jesus was dead and buried for 3 days but then was raised back to life by God and has lived ever since!
In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God “quarantined” or separated individuals and groups of people for His purposes. These people He called “holy” or “holy ones”.
If you’re a Christian, then you are a holy one in union with Christ. It might also be phrased as we are permanently quarantined with Christ and also quarantined from the world. This is a spiritual quarantine because we do still physically live in the world. He “is not of this world” and our union with him is not of this world. By his death, Jesus took care of our spiritual separation or “quarantine” from God, but it’s up to us to take care of the physical separation from the world. That is accomplished through obedience by way of renewing of our minds, which includes our habits.
If you’ve made the choice to be a Christian in union (quarantined) with Christ, then give him your best effort and choose not to be in union (quarantined) with the world.