Thursday, August 6, 2020

A Moment in History for the Church

Everybody has their idea about what it means to live the new normal. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long for most of us to adapt to a new way of getting through the day. For most Christians, the compulsory changes to our society have become more urgent than our traditional customs. In a way, that’s okay. Potentially causing harm to our neighbors certainly wouldn’t promote the cause of Christ. And so, we wear our masks and keep our distance. No harm, and it might save a life.

While our world has been at war with a virus, other battles have flared. Social tension and racial division demand a reaction from Christ’s followers. But have we allowed these challenges to sweep us into the world’s frenzied response? Or are we stayed on the gospel, remembering our calling? 

Perhaps within the church, the old normal wasn’t what it should have been. We’ve been caught up in the concerns of this world for a long time. Maybe our new normal should be to avoid the political rant and point to the coming King. To rest from the fear and proclaim the victory. To resist the fantastical schemes and rely on the truth of the scriptures. So many reports are clouded with misinformation and cloaked by trepidation. It’s too much to process and if allowed, it will consume our thoughts and impede our mission.

While we’re social distancing, we need to remind ourselves and others of the spiritual distance. The truth is, we remain far from God without the freeing power of the gospel. While we’re fixated on washing our hands, we must remember to wash our hearts with God’s Word, with prayer, and with a right mindset.

We consider those trips to the store essential, and delight in the treat of eating at a restaurant. But church? For a great many of our brothers and sisters, online church has become the new normal. It’s safe and acceptable, but this new habit of some might mean a rare return to the gathering of saints in the house of prayer.        

Right now, distance churching is necessary for a lot of people. Of course, we can’t judge. It’s a personal decision made under unprecedented circumstances. But if we’re able to join others in worship, perhaps we should, even if we have to wear a mask, sit six feet apart, and greet each other with a wave instead of a handshake. While the fearful people of our communities are counting positive test results, we can
let them know by filling our church parking lots that we are still counting our blessings. We can assure them the church isn’t closed, that they’re welcome to join our modified assemblage.

Our gathering together offers a witness of peace and stability. But what about the rest of the week? The reset of the world, if that’s what this is, might mean a reset for the church. For whatever time is left for us here in the place, we must remain, or perhaps we must become, a highly devoted church. To that end, it might be better to resist the fight that is not ours, to avoid making an enemy out of a neighbor, a friend, or a fellow believer. And it might be prudent to curb the endless flow of information that may or may not be true. It’s all so distracting.

Of course, we have to know what’s going on. Some awful things are happening, and we should do what we can to protect those around us from sickness and to calm the unrest in our towns and neighborhoods. As believers, we need to hold each other up as we face mounting adversity. No denying it, evil has us surrounded. While we don’t have to accept it as normal, we do have to endure it, at least, for a while. Good thing we’re not in this alone. God is for us, not against us. The enemy is Satan and he’s destined for defeat. As believers, we must stand together. If possible, in person. If not, then in our hearts and in our prayers. We can’t allow this pivotal moment in history to tear us apart.

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