Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Year God Stopped the World

God's grace is at work. He stopped the world, and you're here to see it.

When tragedy strikes, when darkness descends like a blanket, when hope seems to fade — we can tend, in our flesh, to feel overcome and discouraged. We exert effort in finding reasons for the darkness and pushing against that darkness. We strain against what we don't understand, especially when it intrudes on our plans. Yet, we don't have to strain against the darkness because we have the light.

We do not have to read Scripture for very long before we are confronted with the sovereignty of God. There is nothing that happens outside of His control (Ephesians 1:11, Romans 8:28) and in fact He is actively achieving His own good and perfect will in a world that is drenched in sin and darkness (Job 42:2, Genesis 50:20). Yet we make our plans, and we see ourselves as wise and wonderful in our own minds and we feel like we have achieved some magnificent level of enlightenment in post modernity. But we simply follow the same patterns that humanity has been locked into since the fall (Proverbs 16:9).

Covid-19 is a global pandemic that has turned everything on it's head, the economy, social norms, political arrangements, borders, food supplies, gatherings even Sunday Worship has been affected by the changes in our world — all in response to this microscopic virus. We have been forced in our fast paced, globalized culture to stop, slow down and narrow our social exposure. God did that. In 2020, God stopped the World.
"For from him and through him and to him are ALL things. To him be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:36 (emphasis mine)
We have an opportunity to pause, as the world reels and strives to recover what it once was, desperately grasping at what has been deemed most valuable by culture. We have an opportunity to reflect, as the world bemoans personal loss in individualism, convenience, entertainment, sport and travel. We have an opportunity to look forward into the light and pursue Christ; what was — is profoundly diminished by He who is.

We have an opportunity to see God's Grace reflected, even in the darkness. We have an opportunity to intentionally and with great purpose, pursue God in obedience and faith. God stopped the world, but we don't have to respond like the world. God, in His grace, has given every person on the planet an opportunity in the quiet of their home to pursue Him. That pursuit begins with me (2 Corinthians 13:5), but it doesn't end there. This is a dark time, and Christ is the light. Reflect that light, first to your family, and then to your friends and then to everyone you can.

A line from one of my favourite songs; "We serve the uncreated God, so what should we fear?" Now is the time we can abandon fear and proclaim God's grace. Be of good courage, we serve a good and glorious King and He knows what He is doing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Pursuit of Christ isn't Quarantined

There is no question, the past few weeks have been globally unprecedented. We have no real context for what has been transpiring in our world. The globalization borne from constantly improving communications and travel produced warnings in recent years about the potential for a global crisis. There are entire genres of apocalyptic literature, film and game media. We have been fixated on a disruption of what we find most comfortable, and here it is. We are faced with a dramatic and seemingly drastic response to a fast moving, lethal virus. It's amazing. It's fantastic. It's potentially terrifying.

It is clear that there is a large body of professing Christians who are doing everything except reflecting the light of Christ well in this darkness. This is an opportunity for our Faith to be clearly seen, as we reflect the glory of Christ in this darkness. It can be easy to abandon what Scripture gives us, especially when our neighbours are. It ca be easy to forget who God is and what he demands of us. It can be easy to be overwhelmed and pursue the wrong things. Our primary concern in these days should be the pursuit of holiness in Christ.
“Glorious then will the day be, ‘wherein we shall praise God for delivering us out of the hands of all our sins, and from the hand of Satan.” -William Gurnall
 The correct response can seem to be fear and fleeing. And certainly we are called to obey our leaders (Romans 13:1-7), they are given to us by God (1 Peter 2:13-14, John 19:11). And we are called to care more for others than ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). And we are meant to live in confidence and faith (2 Timothy 1:7). We are not meant to be conspiratorial (Isaiah 8:11-17). Further to that we are called to grace, long suffering, kindness, holiness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-26). These attributes still apply in the darkness — they are especially applicable in the darkness. This extends even to our attitudes and actions online.

I was especially impressed by a thought posted recently by a friend of mine, Andrew Ardern.
"May our desire to leave this wilderness be to arrive in God's promised land and not to return to slavery in Egypt."
The object of our affections must continue to be Christ, we don't shift the object of our affections to self preservation like the rest of the world. We need not mourn the loss of what was, as Christians we persist in pursuit of the King. Certainly we must be reasonable stewards, wash our hands, wear masks to protect our neighbours, #StayHome and proceed with wisdom; however as Christians we do this in a redeemed way. We maintain our prime focus on Christ and seek to live in profound obedience, even when it's hard.

  • Be kind to the fearful (Deuteronomy 31:6, Proverbs 11:17, Ephesians 4:32)
  • Be patient with the unreasonable (1 Corinthians 13:4, Romans 12:12)
  • Be obedient to your government (Romans 13:1-7)
  • Be reasonable in all things (Philippians 4:5-9)
  • Be helpful to the helpless (Galatians 6:9, Psalm 116:6)
  • Be thankful in all things (Philippians 4:6)
  • Be confident in God (Hebrews 4:16)