The New Normal
Amidst the rising number of positive cases of COVID 19, it is easy to succumb to fear. Fear of going out in public places. If you’re not careful, you begin to look at each person you pass or come within a 6-foot radius as a potential threat to your health and safety. If we as Christians, true Christ-followers, begin to take on this attitude or disposition, how will we be able to share the love of Christ and the His Gospel? And I would ask an even greater question, where is your faith in God?
Faith through Fear
Before God allowed the children of Israel to cross over the river Jordan and begin to take the promise land, he repeated a phrase over and over and over again. Be strong and courageous. In fact, the Lord spoke this phrase to Joshua through Moses. Then the Lord repeated again to Joshua multiple times. Even the people reaffirmed it again to Joshua. (Deuteronomy 31 and Joshua 1). Joshua repeated it to the Israelite army after defeating the five kings of the Amorites (Joshua 10). King David told his son Solomon twice the same thing concerning the building of the temple (1 Chronicles 22:13, 28:20). And King Hezekiah instructed his military officers the same way when the king of Assyria had attacked Judah. He coined this truth in 2 Chronicles 32:7-8:
“Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.
Being strong and courageous in the face of fear and any enemy is to remember who is with you. The Lord is with you. In Hezekiah’s situation, he knew the Assyrian army way outnumbered his army. In fact, there was no way for them to win this battle by themselves. Yet, God was with them. Church, we must remember who is with us! God is with us, and His promise is that He will never leave us or forsake. So, we cannot render our faith powerless and submit ourselves to fear. We must depend on the Lord for all things. He is with us!
From Restarting to Rebuilding
It is becoming glaringly obvious that COVID 19 and all of its effects are not going away quickly. Many businesses are now changing their focus from restarting to rebuilding. From many of the articles and “experts” I have been reading, most agree, you cannot think of just restarting. You must think about rebuilding, and it will be at least a 2-year process. I believe the Church is in the exact same place. And Eastwood, we are right there too. (Read this article from Church Leaders: https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/378538-church-after-covid-19-three-hard-realities-the-church-must-face.html)
Currently, only around 50% of our congregation has come back to the church building for worship services or Bible study. Even though our giving has remained consistent, if attendance and online viewing show us anything, it is that everything has completely changed. And the old “normal” is now gone for good. Our ministry and our Church will have to rebuild.
As time goes on, and the remaining amount of our Church does not either remain faithful to online viewership or eventually coming back to the church building for fellowship with other believers, human nature and new habits of not going to church become the new normal. This is happening in the Big “C” Church across all of the USA and around the world as well. It is easy to see that the Church of Jesus Christ is facing a peril we have never faced before, at least in this generation. An enemy so deceptive and easily undetected that his schemes and plans go almost unnoticed. And that enemy is fear.
Now common sense and fear are two completely different things. Common sense says to do what is right and respectful of others for both their safety and your own. Fear permeates everything you do, and you can notice it by the emotional effect it has on your life. This is easily noted in 1 John 4:18 where John points out the effect of fear… “fear has torment.” It is only the perfect love that God gives that frees us from fear and perfects our faith.
Andy Stanley’s Church in Georgia, North Point Church, has decided not to reopen their doors for the remainder of the year (Link: https://churchleaders.com/news/378805-north-point-church-cannot-guarantee-safety-wont-reopen-this-year.html ). You can either agree or disagree with this decision, but I applaud the fact that they are facing fear and praying and seeking the face of God on how to minister and continue reaching out as the Church in this world we find ourselves. I believe we will continue to see this trend happening as we get into the Fall and towards the end of the year.
The most alarming thing during this “stay at home church time” is the fact that the prayerlessness of the Church as a whole has not changed. Let me ask you, are you praying more or less or just the same today than you were a month ago? Has the normalcy of these times already adjusted you back to your old patterns of prayer? Yet this is the hour we need to be praying more than we have ever prayed before. But again, we see the effects of fear. When you are bound by fear, you do not pray. When you are held by fear, prayer is weak and not full of faith. When you operate out of fear, your prayer life is not based on the truth of God’s Word and His character. When you are in fear, you are paralyzed.
Facing Fear with Prayer
Eastwood, may this not be so about us! It is high time we push back fear and hit our knees, crying out to God! The Church of the Living God must awake! We must be of one heart and one mind, which is to carry out the Great Commission of our Lord…even in the midst of a pandemic. If our commander and Lord were looking at us and we could see Him face to face, would His command be any different than what He said to Joshua? Or what Hezekiah said to his army facing a great enemy? Or what David said to Solomon on building God’s house? NO! We must be strong and courageous!
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NLT
We need God’s Wisdom and His plan like never before. There is still a lost and dying world that needs the Savior. We are still called to raise up disciples, to meet the needs of the poor and distressed, to care for the orphan and the widow, and to advance God’s Kingdom. This is not a time for church as usual. The usual is gone. We need the fresh wind of the Spirit of God to blow across us and our city. We need revival in the church and believers to WAKE UP! The world needs Jesus. Are you going to be a part of what God is doing? Or will you cower in fear? I pray that we will be strong and courageous. We will face the enemy of fear and, by God’s power, defeat it. And we will see a move of God like we have never seen before.
Be Strong and Courageous!