Have you ever seen a mess in the kitchen, gone to grab the dishcloth only to realise, when you throw it on the mess, it makes things worse because it was full of dirty water? Often, we can’t see what is inside something until we give it a bit of a squeeze, like sponges, eclairs, and jam-donuts.
As I sit at home and listen to the news on Vision Radio, I hear a plethora of ideas and creative ways Christians are dealing with the changes COVID-19 is forcing upon us: none of us are to meet in churches, homes, or even in groups larger than five. It occurred to me this week that we are a bit like the jam in a donut being squeezed out of our “Church homes”.
As it Was
It also reminded me, since I’ve been teaching my way through the OT prophets, of when God forcefully transplanted the Jews from their comfy homes in Israel and Judah and planted them in new cultures. Whilst they were adapting to a whole new life, they also had to relearn how to “do church” without an active priesthood or temple. They had to learn how to continue to … be … who they were called to be in a foreign land.
Similarly, when the NT Christian Jews were faced with persecution in Jerusalem they were forced to leave their homes and traditions and learn how to be the church in a new context. They were squeezed out and, consequently, spread throughout Europe, Asia and Africa taking the Good News of Jesus Christ; the Living Water, with them.
In both situations, God used these circumstances to extend his truth and Good News beyond the established and comfortable boundaries, cultures and traditions the communities had developed and become entrenched in.
It is Now
As I listen to the news and hear updates for what social isolation means for our church, I can’t help thinking we are in a similar situation. And, as I said last week in Zechariah: Now is the Time, God has allowed this to happen, thereby providing us with another great opportunity to ask: How, What and Who. This week we could also ask, Where.
Whilst the world may view “The Church” through various shades of opinion, this is an opportunity to follow the Spirit’s creative lead and ask:
- How can we BE the church in this new context?
- What is the ROLE of the church in lock down?
- Whom can we SERVE from within isolation?
- Where is the SPIRIT leading us?
What Does the Bible Say?
As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”2 Cor. 6:16b; Lev. 26:12; Jer. 32:38; Ezek. 37:27
From this it seems to me that:
- Our God is not static. He is a living, breathing, active God who is ever moving. Yet unchanging in purpose, plan and goal
- We are his people; therefore, we should be a living, breathing, active body who is ever moving, yet unchanging in our purpose, plan or goals
- He has created us from nothing but a shrivelled seed and planted us in this time and place
- God has chosen, saved and ransomed us thereby making us his in every sense of the word
- He lives with us walking among us and shepherding us: leading, guiding, providing, protecting, supporting, blessing us
- He has made a lasting agreement—a covenant with us
- Paul tells us in Romans that being a child of God involves more than outward signs. Rather, we must be circumcised in the heart by the Holy Spirit to be a true child of God.
- A child of God is one who is pure; set apart by the Holy Spirit to pursue God’s glory
The Body of Christ is not static, we are filled with Living Water.
Therefore, we move with the one Spirit as a united whole: a collection of broken, imperfect believers, forgiven, chosen and commissioned.
In this time of crises, the world is crying out in uncertainty, anxiety and hopelessness. We are all being squeezed out of our comfort zones. Therefore, let us pray and ask how we may move with God’s Spirit and be the church in a new way; in this new context.
- As we, the body of Christ are being squeezed out of our comfort zone, what truths are we revealing to the world as our innards are exposed?
- How are we reflecting who we believe in by what we say and do?
- Or better still, how are we pursuing God’s glory as we are forcefully transitioned out of our comfortable boundaries, cultures and traditions that we have developed and become entrenched in?
- As God uses COVID-19 to squeeze us, what are we revealing to the world, filthy water or Living Water?
If we choose to, we can look at this situation with hopeful anticipation; waiting on God with great expectation. It is a time we should be ready to move with our cloak tucked into our belt, our sandals on our feet and our staff in hand. The Spirit is moving, and God is doing marvellous things. Let’s keep in step. Let us be both shaken up and stirred into action.