One of the Hidden Spiritual Dangers
We lived in the Houston area for about six years and often watched a local media celebrity, Marvin Zindler* (1921-2007). He was a forceful voice in his work of exposing dangers not otherwise covered through news outlets. After working in retail and law enforcement, he went into broadcasting and eventually landed at KTRK-TV to become a well-known investigative reporter. He was famous for bold reports to warn the public of hidden dangers in food outlets, like rats and roaches. Eventually he became known as the singular reporter who uncovered the danger of “slime in the ice machine.” He once said, “I know you can’t see it, but we’ve investigated and it is there. And you don’t want to drink it.”
For Christians, there are obvious and notable dangers. Lying, murder, adultery, drunkenness and strife. There are sins which seem to be easy to detect, overt and immediately evident. Other dangers that can beset us may be more like slime in the ice machine. Not nearly as perceptible. Yet dangerous.
Consider isolation. When we withdraw from family, shun our friends or resist good spiritual community among God’s people, there is a dangerous void that needs treatment. What lured us away? Was it hurt, an issue we didn’t address, self-righteousness or a refusal to connect and serve?
God wants His people to connect with one another (Eph. 4:16), love one another (1 Pet. 4:8), serve one another (Gal. 5:13) and encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11). Isolation is counter to these divine desires. In our assemblies we come together to “stir one another to love and good works” (Heb. 10:25). Upon our obedience to the gospel, we enter into fellowship and family with others who have made that good choice. We nurture one another as we become acquainted and share in good things and support each other in bad times.
Isolation removes us from these benefits. Perhaps we re-discovered the value of community and spiritual family during the pandemic. But it was clear in God’s Word long before the virus and the extraordinary measures that created isolation.
I’m writing this on a Lord’s Day in September, when my wife was enduring a rather tough case of Covid. Because of exposure and needing to care for her, we were home during the assembly. We had the now legendary live-streams, but still there was a sense of isolation from our spiritual family; it just wasn’t the same.
One of the most effective and fruitful provisions of God for His people is this fellowship that isn’t just printed in a directory or “virtual.” It is actual and real and meaningful. Isolation is a hidden danger. It may not be directly perceptible (like slime in the ice machine), but it is there and a threat.
“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment,” (Prov. 18:1).
* One of Marvin Zindler’s sons, Mark, is a faithful member of the Southside church of Christ in Pasadena, Texas.