There are some questions/comments that seem to be floating around within the Christian community throughout this season of Covid19:
- There has to be more to what is going on than what we see on the news right?
- Trust Jesus, not face masks.
- Why are people so selfish – can they not follow simple instructions to keep everyone else safe?
- Why are people so stupid – can they not see that the government and the media are controlling us?
- The virus is real and the situation is critical!
- The virus is real but it’s not that bad…
- The virus may be real but there’s more to it than meets the eye
- The virus isn’t real
- Have you downloaded the Test and Trace app?
- Look at the statistics
- Look at the prophecies
- God is at work in this season
- Satan is at work in this season
As if the Christian communities weren’t divided enough with Trump and Brexit, we are now witnessing the polarising effect of Covid19, not only in the world but within the church.
Like-minded Christians are aligning closer to one another to strengthen each other’s position whilst distancing from those who ‘just don’t get it’.
The division is palpable.
As a pastor, I’m often asked where I stand regarding all of this, so I thought I would oblige.
But first, let’s have a read of 1 Corinthians 13:1-13:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have no love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
The Bible reminds us that all of our ‘knowing’ is incomplete and all of our ‘prophecies’ are incomplete.
What matters to God the most is that we love one another, not that we would have all the knowledge (medical, science or spiritual) or all the prophecies/spiritual insights. If we could apply the same amount of energy used to discuss Covid19 to love one another instead, I wonder how quickly and easily we would stand out as a community over the deafening noise that surrounds us.
Personally, this is an ongoing journey of remembering that disagreement does not need to lead to disconnection. For so long, and sometimes even now, my past experience has often guided my thinking, that if someone doesn’t agree with me then they will punish me by withdrawing affection or friendship. This can lead me to force my opinions or ‘revelations’ on others and ‘listening’ just so I can follow up with what I want to say. But it turns out that the purpose of listening is..to listen, to connect with the person rather than just to ‘get it over and done with’ so I can express my own thoughts – who knew! It’s a daily choice for me to keep casting out fear with the perfect love of the Father, so I can connect in love, not with fear.
Regardless of how knowledgeable we may be about the virus or how prophetic we are, neither of these give permission to lower our love and esteem towards one another. Nor does it justify us withdrawing our love, honour and connection from one another. Could it be that we see things differently yet we are still able to love one another wholeheartedly? To open ourselves up to be lovingly challenged rather than just challenging? To allow God to bring into our lives what we may be missing through our brothers and sisters in Christ and also bring what we’ve been given to strengthen the community? Sounds like a healthy body of Christ.
The greatest loss of this time won’t merely be our Sunday services unless each of us actively and intentionally choose to place ‘loving God and loving people’ as our joint pursuit above all else.
- When love is lost, we’ve forgotten that we are loved (John 13:34-35)
- When love is lost, we are not being true to who we now are as God’s children (1 John 3:10)
- When love is lost, we’ve lost our knowledge of God (1 John 4:7)
Our purpose and the vision as a congregation has not changed from what Jesus calls us to:
‘Love God, and love people’
Let’s pray for our church community, that we would emerge from this time more in love with God and more equipped to love one another better than before.