Proclaim Jesus Christ
I guess we're now almost grown accustomed to the constant stream of increasingly dreadful news from around the world, around the U.S., across NC, and in our towns. We probably all expect our very neighborhoods to soon be adding to the rising statistics from COVID 19, both in the number of cases as well as perhaps in the death toll. Our lives have changed virtually overnight, with a multitude of new rules to follow, opinions to consider, new and frightening options to weigh as we go about our new daily routines. Is it worth the risk of exposure if I head down to Food Lion to pick up some avocados? How can I keep the kids motivated with their online studies? What worthwhile activities can I get them involved with that doesn't require having their friends over (and we can't go to the park, it's closed)? And we can be assured that, at least for the coming weeks, these changes will themselves change - maybe our favorite new phrase, social distancing - becomes greater...What??? 12 feet this week! And they recommended 6 feet just last week! Lockdowns are likely to become even more widespread and restrictive with stronger enforcement, new rules with tighter restrictions businesses are likely, and so on down the line. And of course...Wall Street bounces Up 5% with each tidbit of news from the gov't concerning new stimulus packages and then Down 5% as the latest unemployment numbers are tallied.
No one likes instability, uncertainty, insecurity, vulnerability, volatility...yet we're (at least for this moment in time) facing all of these in multiple aspects of our lives. As God's adopted children, representing the body of Christ - His Bride, we are indeed blessed by the gifts we share as His heirs...to have Jesus' love, His mercy, His promises, and the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to help us find courage and comfort from these great gifts - particularly as we study and meditate on the tangible gift He left us...His Word. We have these divine gifts - these tools to help us deal with this crisis spiritually and emotionally, so all we need to do now is stock up and isolate ourselves and families and do our best to ride out the storm, right? Hardly!!
I want us to consider this well-known passage from Luke...chapter 12, verse 48b - this is from Jesus' parable about the unfaithful servant: "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Now we usually read this as material prosperity...our money, for as we know from Matthew 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.". While it certainly does apply to our checkbooks and we should be more gracious in our giving and sharing during this crisis, I'd like to point out that the passage from Luke doesn't say 'given much money', or 'entrusted with much money', it says merely "given much", and "entrusted with much". What else besides money have we been given and entrusted with much of??? How about love, mercy, promises....the GOSPEL....all the gifts I spoke of earlier. And all of these add up to what?? The greatest gift of all - Salvation.
Consider this quote from Dolly Parton concerning COVID 19: " I think God is in this, I really do. I think he's holding us to the light so we can see ourselves and see each other through the eyes of love." I like where she is headed with this, but she doesn't go deep enough - to see ourselves....that's very shorthand for taking an introspective look at ourselves....and particularly from the secular perspective....asking the BIG questions - who am I....why am I here....does my life have meaning/value....is there more??? I'd agree with Dolly, that "God is in this" - it's certainly not catching him napping and he's going to use it for His purposes....for HIS GLORY...and it's no surprise that such a crisis opens the spiritual door to those seeking refuge. Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me.
While this ongoing crisis may not lead to an enormous worldwide revival, it absolutely will soften hearts to the Gospel message as folks slow down and consider those big questions concerning their own lives and looming mortality. Maybe some will even binge on old Billy Graham crusades once they've finished all 9000 episodes of Friends and Seinfeld or whatever the latest popular show is....personally, I have all episodes of the Monkees and Gilligan's Island on DVD. The bottom line is this...we have open doors all around us...AND we have answers to those questions....we have God's love to comfort us during these times....and most importantly, we have the great commission to proclaim Jesus Christ from Matthew 28: 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age"
John 4: 32 But he (Jesus) said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about. 33 So the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought him something to eat?" 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.35 Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.
Brothers and Sisters,
I know you're in prayer for God's protection and healing for the many health care workers on the front lines as well as those who are or are to be afflicted during this time. Remember to be in prayer for GCC....her staff, her ministry leaders, and her body - especially those among us who are more susceptible to this type of virus. And to follow along with the message I've passed along today, pray for God to soften someone's heart....just for you....maybe someone you've already been in prayer and witnessed to...that He might honor you with the opportunity to share the Gospel...and that the Holy Spirit will assist you with courage, clarity, and wisdom as you share the Good News.
May the Lord bless you all and keep you safe!!