Pulling this post into a coherent, understandable form has been a challenge. It has taken at least a couple of days and several conversations to help me organize my thoughts in the direction I wanted to go. Writing this has been made more difficult by the overwhelming tsunami of information being released daily, and the frightening, unfamiliar situation which most of us have never experienced. My message is primarily to my brothers and sisters in Christ, but I hope to spread some light and hope for others as well.
The majority of us currently living have never faced a worldwide pandemic, or experienced the fallout of efforts trying to deal with it. Our lives have been disrupted, and the illusion we held that our lives would always go on as usual have been shattered. Things we took for granted- job, income, leisure- were whisked away as governmental edicts closed businesses and schools and cancelled most every entertainment and leisure activity. Our nice, comfortable lives became anything but, and for those with lives built on that foundation, life suddenly became anxious, scary, and uncertain.
This should be a huge wake-up call for all of us. This has been a time of hardship on everyone, which will only get worse the longer it continues. For some it is already a time of despair; the job lost which may never come back, fears over how to support family in the face of mounting bills, feelings of worthlessness and depression. Having to question all our assumptions and finding them lacking is the recipe for loss of hope.
Our country, our world, may never recover from this in spite of all the optimistic assurances being made to the public. Even if recovery is possible it will take a long time. The emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage may never be undone. When you lose hope it’s very hard to get it back unless someone gives it to you. And that, church, is where we come in.
In a dark, hopeless, cynical world that dismisses us as kooks and hypocrites or even actively hates us, it is time for us to step up to our calling. We live as if we have no idea or understanding of who we are, or have decided it’s too high a standard for me to live that way. I would humbly beg to disagree. Let me bring to your remembrance what God’s word says about us.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us,
“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (emphasis mine).” -(Matthew 5:14–16)
Peter, under inspiration of the Spirit, said it this way:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – (1 Peter 2:9) (again, emphasis mine)
There is always a temptation to read these scriptures and to have one of two thoughts: “I can’t be that”, or “Look at how special I am!” Both are dead wrong because the scriptures make no allowance for either one. They don’t say, “you could be”, or “you can eventually be”, or even “if you’re spiritual enough, you will be”. Both verses are declarative: “You ARE”. If you have given yourself to Christ, this is what you are. The only qualification is surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
But before we pat ourselves on the back for being exceptional people we need to finish reading the verses. Our being light, chosen, priests, holy, and a people for God’s possession is because He has given us a purpose and obligation. Read them again; pay special attention to the bold type. God has chosen us to bring His light, His praises, His message to those who haven’t yet found their way out of the darkness, where we once lived. Our designation as the body of Christ is not a merit badge, it’s a job description. We will never fulfill our calling until we understand that.
In Romans 10, Paul is speaking of how God’s purpose was for all people to be reconciled to Him, regardless of race, nationality, or condition. He talks about how all need to call on Christ for salvation, both Jews and Gentiles. Then he stops and adds this:
“How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” – (Romans 10:14–15)
The feet Paul speaks of are ours. We are the only ones who have the news that’s truly good. We have the only true hope, the only real joy, because we represent the only One who can provide them. In a world that grows ever darker, in a time of fear, anxiety, and hopelessness, it is our time to shine. Not only do we need to share the good news, we need to be the living embodiment of it. Shine the light of love, of caring, of hope and joy into the lives of those who have known very little of it. Make the phone call. Share the bag of groceries, or better yet, make the trip to the store for someone who can’t. Live your faith. Remember Christ’s glass of water to someone who is thirsty. Yes, you can share the love, joy, and hope of Christ even if you’re not a preacher or Bible scholar.
Let me leave you with this. In the book of Esther, the Jews in Babylonian captivity are in danger of being slaughtered due to an edict by the king. Esther, who is the queen and a Jew, receives word from her uncle Mordecai who begs her to intervene. She hesitates out of fear for her own life. Mordecai sends her this reply:
“Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s family will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” -(Esther 4:13–14)
Christian, you who are a royal priest, who are the light of the world, this is your time. This is our time. We have no other.