Author: Michael Bannon

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For God’s Sake: Let’s join Jesus outside the camp

When my wife arrived, she went straight to our bedroom to quarantine herself pending her co-worker’s test results, an estimated 24-48 hours.

At first, it was kind of fun. We clowned around with the Two-Way app that turns your smartphone into a two-way radio. My radio handle was Base, kind of boring, and my wife’s, Quarantine Queen. She knew the radio protocols having listened as a child to her father’s banter on his ham radio set. It took me all afternoon to remember to say “over” at the end of my communications.

Dinnertime presented our first challenge. I love to cook, so the prep was easy, but we had yet to work out the delivery system. A wooden footstool set outside the bedroom door became our transfer station. “Hey, Quarantine Queen.”

“Go base, over.”

“Your dinner is ready.”

“Roger that, and you forgot to say ‘over.’ Over.”

“Whatever.” I stepped back about 10 feet and watched as a set of arms reached out the door and snatched the tray inside. A muffled thank you came through the door.

“You forgot to say ‘over,’” I muttered.

After dinner, my keen brain suddenly realized that I would have to do the dishes, walk the dog, and anything else to be done outside the quarantine zone for the next few days.

The 24-hour wait, became 48 hours and still no test results, just word that her co-worker’s symptoms had worsened. “It’s the coronavirus for sure – over,” we both agreed via Two-Way. I slept restlessly on a recliner, the sofa, and in a guest bedroom all in one night. Finally, after 72 hours in quarantine, my wife texted me to say that her co-worker had tested negative.

The Bible describes how Jesus “also suffered outside the gate,” to set his people apart to God with his own blood. It encourages us to “go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.” During Israel’s 40 years wandering in the wilderness, those who contracted certain diseases were “quarantined” outside the camp and declared ceremonially unclean. Disease was an unwelcomed reminder that sin is in the world. After a prescribed period, they were examined and, if well, allowed back in the camp.

Jesus identified himself with those outside the camp, willingly bearing the shame and reproach for our sins when he died on the cross on that hill outside the gate. The invitation to join him outside the camp is a call to willingly bear for his name’s sake the reproach that he bore for us.

Our short quarantine experience brought home the weightiness of this call. Quarantining was inconvenient, but so is following Jesus. It was lonely, but so is following Jesus. Quarantining is for the benefit of others, and so is our faithfully following Jesus. Let’s join him outside the camp.

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