A New Dawn is coming
Peace and the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. I have been thinking about you a lot this week about what you have had to deal with during this pandemic crisis, how are you coping with having the kids at home whilst maybe working from home and getting the dinner ready all at the same time. How are you processing furlough, how are you coping with loneliness, loss, grief, stress or anxiety about the present and the future? How are you coping being on the front line keeping our country going?
There are so many things I know you are contending with and Linda and I want you to know that we are praying for you daily. I want to encourage you to use this time as a time of preparation and reflection not just for just now but for when we come out of this season. They say the evenings are always darkest just before the dawn and it feels as if we are in a season of the evening just now. But take heart the dawn is coming.
As I contemplated this new reality that we find ourselves in I was reminded of a quote by C.S Lewis “You never know how much you really believe anything, until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life or death for you. C.S. Lewis, in A Grief Observed
Something is being revealed, something C.S Lewis understood through his grief. In the face of loss and suffering, unbuffered by the busyness and comforts of life, we find what our confidence and faith has really been in. The reality of our beliefs is being revealed and tested - whether we want that or not.
I’ve discovered that there is a world of difference between a believer holding beliefs and beliefs that hold a believer. It is at times like this we find what we truly believe in.
The number one question I feel the Holy Spirit asking us is “when the dawn finally breaks and we are back in a room together, will we come back stronger?”
I know that he wants you to grow in this season and not merely survive, but thrive.
Personal renewal will become the key to corporate change
The question that every Christian needs to be asking right now is, “What does God want to do inside of me during this crisis?” When you look throughout history, almost every single major revival or spiritual event was preceded by Christians personal internal revival.
“Personal renewal precedes corporate change.” So, we as followers of Jesus can respond to this crisis practically, but I doubt that we will truly see our world-change unless we sit with God and hear what he truly has to say to us about what he is calling us to do.
As I step back and look at the bigger picture I believe amazing opportunities are unfolding before us. The changes for society and challenges for church have all shifted. Previously we had moved from an American dominated century to a globally connected secular century where some of the church was just starting to get to grips with how to be a missional church in a post Christian culture. Christians increasingly felt pushed into a corner and faith in God was labelled as irrelevant.
But all that has been disrupted, short circuited and we have almost leapt beyond that context. This virus that has come out of Wuhan is evidence of the lack of resilience that this global connected ideology of we don’t need God, Faith or Church “we just need to connect everything in the world and things will be better,” is incredibly fragile. Now in some cases things have gotten better through connectivity with some people moving out of poverty in places like China and India through their emerging economies.
But in the midst of this connectedness is this tremendous weakness, as all it has taken is this one virus to shut everything down. We are now living in the consequences of that. I think this is a profound switch, we are living at a moment in time where we have never had the entire world focus on one issue. We are becoming a one issue world at the moment of my writing this.
Personally, I think this is going to profoundly change the world as we know it. There will be things that carry on as per normal but people are recognising their mortality and their fragility and the things that have kept us in a post Christian world are being dismantled at their very foundations. Which I think is leading to an awakening where people are spiritually hungry again.
The postmodern secular lifestyle gurus that have promoted the secular message do what you want, when you want, with who you want, is like the king in his new set of clothes, naked and exposed because all of a sudden overnight that world has collapsed.
The Western doctrine of “more freedom = more happiness” has become an emptier than ever promise
As humans, we need some level of freedom. But too much freedom can actually be damaging. If you lived in communist Bulgaria in the late sixties and you had the choice of only one washing powder that choice was restrictive. If you then had the choice of three washing powders that is far better than 1 option of washing powder at the store, but 300 options isn’t better than 3. When we have too many options we actually begin to get what psychologists call “choice anxiety.”
The gospel of secular salvation promises that you can find meaning by exercising your ultimate freedom and doing exactly what you want whenever you want with whoever you want. Our Western culture has chased this message for years, but Coronavirus is showing that we need a social fabric and structure to live in, more than we need ultimate unlimited freedom. This is where biblical community and biblical standards for living well comes into play as an antidote to a secular postmodern individualistic culture.
The church now has an amazing window of opportunity to disentangle its faith view from its world view. Thoughts and beliefs that some thought was Christianity have been exposed to be cultural as opposed to biblical.
My encouragement to you is that God is doing something amazing just now. My suspicion is that his church will have an amazing part to play in it, and his church will become stronger through this crisis as we press into Him.
So how do we come out stronger, I will keep referring you back to the source of all stability all innovation and creativity entrepreneurialism and say this. This is the time to seek the Lord in the quite place, this is the time to meet with him in his word, this is the time to spend with our families in prayer, this is the time where we want to see break through. This is the time when we need to keep leaning in to our church community. If we do so then perhaps we get to re write the narrative of a new day that is dawning. We get to model to people that are awakened and coming towards God that there is a better way to do life, a better normal that can cope in this ever-changing world in which we live in. When the dawn finally breaks and we are back in a room together let’s commit to come back stronger together.
Jamie & Linda