Bob Brown, Pastor
The New Norm?
America, the world, has changed in the last month. The norm is no longer the norm. Children are at home. Parents are working from home if they’re even working at all. Trips out are discouraged. We’re told to go walk in a park -- just practice social distancing -- but the parks are closed. If you dare to go to the store the supply is low at best and things like toilet paper are impossible to buy.
And church? Well, church has now become something we do from our phone, computer, or television. I saw this meme and it rang pretty true:
And so we live in a new world. There’s going to be a new norm. We are now living in strange times and I suspect that even if in the next month or so things get back to how they were, that if what we’re being told is true, we’ll see all this again come fall, no school, no work, no church, etc.
Such is life for all of us right now. And the truth is that we don’t know when things will get better. Weeks, months, longer?
We are living with a level of anxiety we haven’t seen since 9/11. People are rightfully worried about their health and the health of their loved ones. We’re worried about losing our jobs, then our homes. We feel trapped by things that we can’t control.
I guess it makes sense that people are hoarding toilet paper. It makes sense that we can’t sleep.
So here’s a question for you. How should we respond as Christians?
1. Remain Calm
We, as Christians, should be the calmest people there are because we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and He holds the present and future in His hands. The pandemic didn’t catch God off guard. Heaven is not in a panic. If you stay glued to the news, you’ll no doubt lose your perspective. You’ll be overwhelmed! Focus on Christ, remember the promises given in His Word, and everything will be alright.
2. Stay in The Word
No one knows what tomorrow will bring but, as I mentioned above, God was not caught by surprise. I’ve seen people talking about the hobbies they’ve picked up during their downtime. And while I and my family have not found that “downtime”, in fact, I believe it’s just as busy -- and perhaps busier for me -- maybe you have found yourself with extra time on your hands.
While it is great to take up a hobby for yourself, I would also encourage you to take up getting into God’s Word. Take time to really study His teaching. Take advantage of the many pastors who are preaching and teaching online. Turn off the news and read a good book or The Good Book.
3. Do Something
Going along with the above paragraph, there are many things we can do during this time that have far more reaching and life-changing effects than stringing beads to make necklaces. I’ve seen many who are making masks to be given to nurses, paramedics, and police. What a great cause.
Also, we shouldn’t forget our churches during this time. Maybe you could paint a Sunday School room or clean and rearrange your church’s kitchen cabinets. I’m sure there are storage buildings and rooms that need cleaning and arranging.
You can also keep your eyes open for those in need. This includes senior citizens, the sick, and remember all the kids who haven’t been to school in a month and probably won’t be the rest of this year. All of us will have plenty of opportunities to minister in the days ahead. You’d don’t have to binge-watch every show on Netflix!
Hebrews 12:26 tells us that “once more” God will shake the world before Christ returns. That perspective helps us think wisely about the coronavirus pandemic. God is allowing a tiny microbe to bring the world to a standstill. Does He have our attention yet?
Why would God use a time like this to speak to us? Hebrews 12:27 says God is shaking everything that can be shaken (all the things built by man) so that only unshakable things can remain.
Eugen Peterson gave us this paraphrase:
The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.
Unshakable essentials. That really says it all! Maybe God is shaking the earth so that we will figure out what matters most. Here’s the good news. Perhaps out of these shaky days will come a vast spiritual harvest. People are asking questions because they want to know who they can trust. What a wonderful door for ministry that is being opened to us.
Don’t get overly shaken up. Don’t give in to fear. Use these times to grow in your relationship with the Lord.
Father, you are the solid rock beneath our feet. We are trusting you, and we will remain unshakable. When the kingdoms of the earth crumble to dust, your words will remain true. Amen.