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Involved Not Isolated

OBVIOUSLY there are times when we would all appreciate a little isolation. Maybe a few days on a desert island with fresh coconuts and BBQ’d swordfish? What parent of little-ones would not appreciate a few minutes peace and quiet? Anyone who needs to focus sometimes just needs to be left alone etc etc

But over the past 3 years especially we have seen the dramatic and unexpectedly detrimental effects of isolation. There is a reason societies use it as punishment. It is not good for people.

Reflecting on each of the recent headline grabbing scandals, I honestly don’t think that the men (mostly men) involved started off as evil, dangerous people, hell-bent on destroying lives and faith. I think it was probably the exact opposite. But somewhere along the way, maybe as a result of success or whatever, the main leader became isolated.

Maybe it became important for them to spend days in their office working on a Sunday talk - and if several thousand people were turning up for it, I understand that. To be honest, if just 5 people are turning up for it, nobody wants the ignominy of having to stand there unprepared and feel the stares of unimpressed people!

Maybe they became famous either locally or nationally and were suddenly offered all kinds of other opportunities to speak / coach / minister / write a book.

And before they realised it, they were spending more time in planes, trains and hotel rooms than they were spending with their families or their church.

And let’s be honest, which of us would not prefer this. You can travel to event after event where at each gig you are pampered, adored, applauded and revered as an honoured and wise guest - OR you can stay at home and listen to a parishioner moan about their infected earlobe before completing an insurance claim form for the damage caused by a leaking toilet cistern in the gent’s loo.

Easy decision.

Except then you become isolated  - which is the very antithesis of the incarnational, personal involvement modelled by Jesus. Involvement is vital.

This is why I should put out chairs and do the washing up. This is why I do want to know if your earlobe is infected…in fact, we have created a whole section of our gathering habit precisely to give opportunity for earlobe announcements (and whatever else tickles anyones fancy).

This is why the people who have ever gained air-time in our village have been the ones who first served and took out the rubbish. This is why, even if we ever have staff to run kids and youth groups it is important for me to still be involved in the life of our younger crew and play toy cars on the floor with them.

As soon as power enables isolation from involvement, then we are all in trouble. Isolation enables pedestals and idol making. So please, if you ever see me isolating myself, come and pull me back into the herd.

About the author

Paul Oxley

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