We are truly living in strange days friends. We have an enemy we can’t see, the information we are receiving can be wildly speculative and no one knows for sure how long this whole thing will last. Strange days indeed.
In regards to response, we are watching the spectrum unfold before our eyes. On one side you’ve got hoarding, self-preservation and carelessness masking as bravado. Yet, at the same time, we are witnessing the very best of humanity through medical professionals on the front lines, a husband in front of a nursing home professing his love for his wife that he is unable to see due to lockdown and Italians singing “How Great is Our God” to each other from their balconies. The dance between our image bearing divineness and our inherent darkness continues.
As the situation here on the U.S. front has progressed, God has pressed on my heart a handful of things that I wanted to share
- God is up to something. Psalm 121:4 says that God neither sleeps nor slumbers. Do you know what that means? That means that he’s always awake, always aware and always working. You know what else that verse says? That God is our help and that he’s watching over you. Take courage friends, God is up to something and we would do well to listen to His voice.
- This is the time for the church to step up. Throughout church history, it has been the church that has stepped up to the plate in times of crisis. The church have been innovative, sacrificial and displayed Christ to the world in times such as these. Take some time to look to read Acts 2 or 4 and see a sacrificial, loving community in action. What would it look like for us to do that again?
- The movement will be organic (not top-down) and led by ordinary believers empowered by the Spirit. If the church is to step up in this moment and time, it will be by everyday, ordinary believers who are walking in the power of the Spirit. There is a place for church leaders, but every believer has been called by God (2 Tim. 1:9), to do the work of God (2 Cor. 5:18-21), empowered by the Spirit of God (Jn. 14:26). One of my favorite books, The Forgotten Ways, speaks of how God’s people can stir up movement in the church –
“If we’re going to impact our world in the name of Jesus, it will be because people like you and me took action in the power of the Spirit. Ever since the mission and ministry of Jesus, God has never stopped calling for a movement of “Little Jesuses” to follow him into the world and unleash the remarkable redemptive genius that lies in the very message we carry. Given the situation of the Church in the West, much will now depend on whether we are willing to break out of a stifling herd instinct and find God again in the context of the advancing kingdom of God.”– Alan hirsch, The forgotten ways: Reactivating the missional church
All of that being said, I want to get incredibly practical on what it might look like for a movement to get ignited in a moment such as this. Here are 10 ways to practically love your neighbor and “unleash the remarkable redemptive genius that lies in the very message we carry” as Christians.
- Seek first the kingdom of God – In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us how to battle anxiety. It’s to remember that we have a heavenly Father who cares for us, will provide for us and then tells us how to live. We are to “seek first the kingdom of God” and then all things will be added unto us. Seek him through the Scriptures, prayer and fasting. Ground yourself in the certainty of God’s love and truth before you step out into the world of uncertainty.
- Fight your sin. – The best thing Satan could do right now with everyone at home is to have us give into old patterns of sin whether that be pornography, alcohol or the more “respectable sins” of anger, judgement or gossip. Make war against your sin, not excuses for it (Rom. 8:12-13).
- Stay healthy. – Bodily training is of “some value” as Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy 4:8. Stay healthy so that you can keep a sharp mind and be of service to those around you.
- Watch out for the vulnerable by adhering to social distancing practices. – We are to look after the “orphan and the widow” and the least of these. That means caring for the value of life of ALL people, no matter their age or medical condition. As a father to an immuno-compromised child, parents who are over 60 and as someone who has lost a parent, this is crucial to me on a personal level. Listen to the CDC and your city.
- Pass on faith and facts, not fear and falsehoods. – Friends, we are people of truth that follow the Person of Truth (Jn. 14:6). Let us be people that fight fear through faith and pass on facts, not falsehoods.
- Reach out to your friends. – Seriously, reach out to everyone on your phone. Call them, text them and just ask how they are doing. It doesn’t matter if you are terrible on the phone, just do it! Reach out to the college student, your single friends, families, and your neighbor. Ask how you can be praying for them or offer any help
- Mobilize and organize to support local businesses, healthcare workers and those in need. It was Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.” The context was slightly different, but it’s time to mobilize and organize people to love your neighbor well. Get those with means connected to those who have needs. Don’t wait on someone else to do it. Step up to the plate!
- Keep giving to churches, nonprofits & those in need. – Don’t stop giving. It’s easy to want to panic and hoard, but we are a people of generosity. Even in the midst of a trial and poverty, the church still gave generously (2 Cor. 8:2). Why? 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
- Be wise. – Paul tells us to live wisely for the days are evil (Eph. 5:16). The enemy would love for you to be foolish. I’m not saying to trust blindly or to not be fearless, but please don’t be reckless. Be wise.
- Share about Jesus and the good news of the gospel. – People, share the reason for your hope! (1 Pt. 3:15). We are a priesthood of all believers TO “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pt. 2:9).
Friends, this is your moment. I believe that with every fiber of my being. Walk in peace knowing that you worship the Prince of Peace. Love your neighbor in wise, practical and sacrificial ways. Give the reason for your love.
Seize your divine moment, even if that moment means staying home, loving your family well and making phone calls. It may not seem like much to you, but nothing with God returns back void.