8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. 2 Tim. 2.8-10
At the time of writing we have been summoned to a national hibernation by our leaders. Unprecedented, uncharted, unforeseen—these are the prominent words in our current vocabulary in the midst of these historical times in which we find ourselves. It is not a new “temporary,” nor a new ‘normal”---what about a new “reality?” Yet, when we look at a definition of reality as “something that exists independently of all things and from which all other things derive” (dictionary.com) that sounds a lot like a description of God to me. So “in reality” we don’t have a new reality but an old one that will never change (Mal. 3.6; Heb. 13.8) plus a new set of circumstances in which we must decide how we will react to them in light of that never changing reality.
Our feelings right now range from frustration to fear to anger to bewilderment, but I think the summary feeling is shock—that we have voluntarily surrendered our relationships, our wealth, our freedom ,and many other things precious to us in the name of curbing a potentially devastating new silent and invisible invader to our state named coronavirus, or more accurately, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The shock is from the speed of the changes which are daily and sweeping, and the growing dread that a way of life we’ve come to cherish may be (at least for the long term) altered greatly.
This column is not about the struggle between compliance with our public officials and our duty to proclaim the Word of God, ‘to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s’. I believe that is a concocted spectrum in this instance. According to those verses at top, the priority is not my freedom, nor my privileges, but the propagation of the Gospel and the preservation of lives. Paul endured imprisonment and ultimately loss of life for the sake of spreading God’s truth abroad; we have to ask ourselves, what we are willing to let go of in order to save life both physically and spiritually?
I don’t say that lightly; some of us will lose our jobs, our retirement, our former platforms for ministry. All jokes & memes aside (needed to keep our sanity and laugh at ourselves), our lives are changing before our very eyes, and some of those changes will be deep and painful. But we are witnessing an emergence of new ways to share the Good News (some of your online teachings have had 100’s of views); a re-establishment of the home for evangelism, ministry, training; new ways to connect with each other; and new ways to minister to our community. We must be willing to explore new “everything.” Some things we will be able to postpone, some hold in abeyance, but some we will have to release (including traditions, maybe even possessions). The only two things from this earth that make it into heaven are the Word of God and the souls of men (see verses above). Our churches, our very social infrastructures may look vastly different on the other side of this. I’m not saying embrace all change w/o discernment; “hibernation” doesn’t mean we go brain dead or spirit dead. This is a tremendous time to forge new paths for supporting our churches, or to add to our arsenal of ways to serve and love in His name. “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Prov. 11.14)
I love our association, churches, and our shepherds. We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. (Rom. 8.37) Let’s not just “hunker down” but more than ever seek innovative opportunities to be salt and light to our communities.
Contact our office if you need a nudge to take that first step.