Stay at home. If you have to go out, follow social distancing guidelines. Don’t visit your extended family or friends. Don’t go to a restaurant. Don’t get your hair cut. Don’t walk in the park. Don't go to the bar. Don’t go to church? That one matters to some of us. No matter how COVID-19 has changed your life, you know what to say. I’m not sure why a pandemic needs branding, but here it is: We’re all in this together. Right?
With our movement restricted and our economy crippled, we’re not as free as we were two months ago. Our survival instinct has ramped up to the point that we’re willing to submit to an altered societal structure without question. Safety has become our priority as fear eclipses freedom. That short punch of encouragement—we’re all in this together—is pushed on us by the media, governing authorities, even grocery stores and car dealers. It does serve a purpose, I suppose. It reminds us that our actions affect everyone around us. But even that realization drives the fear because we might be infected and not know it, so we can’t go around breathing on people, or touching stuff, or, God forbid, shaking hands.
A customer (we own an essential business) reached out to shake my husband’s hand. I said, “Don’t shake hands.” The man responded, “Eh, that’s *%$#&&@!.” And then he latched on for a handshake. So, maybe not everyone is willing to accept the “new normal.” I’m okay with forever removing the handshake from of our cultural habits, but some people are not going to change.
Some of us, two months ago, presumed we were free, and now we will defend our right to remain free. The current bombardment of information overload, conspiracy theories, and threats to our indulgent, consumer-driven, comfortable way of life has us yanking on proverbial chains. We don’t know how we got trapped so quickly. We don’t know when the powers that be will allow us to return to our former freestyle selves. We’re feeling the reality of a loss of freedom, albeit trivial and temporary. We sense we’re walking in the shadow of something that might become permanent.
But not all of us are wasting so much time on the headlines and the news briefs. We're not ringing our unshakable hands over how we might phase back into the old normal. Some of us have known all along that the freedom posed by this world isn’t true. We’re not wondering if there’s anyone who can set the world right again. We know we’re free, and we know the One who sets all things right.
The world is messed up because it’s always been messed up, ever since we collectively walked away from God. The whole world suffers the overwhelming, inescapable consequence of our rebellion. The only way out of this mess is the Good News, that is, the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the only true freedom available to humankind. The only remedy to the corruption swallowing our planet. The only thing that will save us.
If you’re feeling trapped by the new normal, if you’re not sure exactly what this is that we’re all in together, ask God to set you free. This world filled with lies and crooked landscapes lorded over by the rulers of evil is passing away. It’s inevitably becoming unreal. The freedom offered by the gospel is the solitary passage into the real world. And the real world starts right here, right now.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. John 3:16-19
If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36