I never thought that words like “quarantine,” “social-distancing,” “pandemic," and “lockdown” would be daily-used words in my vocabulary. And yet, here we are!
A crisis unlike anything we’ve faced in living memory has swept across the world, consuming it with panic-buying, chaos, and fear.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. After all, as I said, we haven’t experienced anything even close to this since the Spanish Flu swept the world in the 1910s. It’s terrifying to think of an unseen enemy lurking anywhere and everywhere -- to imagine all the possible economic repercussions a long-term crisis could have.
But … However frightening and mind-boggling this situation, like all struggles, this COVID-19 crisis has its silver lining.
This time of being shut in our homes, with everything we thought was important put on hold, is a God-given opportunity for growth: growth in our faith, growth in love for our family and friends, and growth in our mindset of what it means to be Christians.
You see, when God desires growth, He prunes. He cuts away the things that we rely on and leaves nothing but space for Him. What if this worldwide pause on ordinary life is God’s pruning, His trying to take us back to what really matters in life?
Just think about it. No rush, no crowds, no packed schedules. Instead, it’s spending time as a family, cooking at home, playing games, having true conversations, and taking time to focus on the thing that matters the most: Jesus.
Of all the silver linings to be found in this crazy storm, that is the one that sticks out the most to me. For too long, God’s people have settled into the “routine” of serving Him -- or what we think serving Him looks like. We go to church, we worship a little, we pray a little, and we go home. Week after week, we have grumbled about getting out of bed early to go to church, and we take for granted the fact that we get to see our church family on a regular basis. We take for granted that we get to go to church at all.
And now, in less than a month … all of that is gone. And no one is quite sure yet when those things will be back.
Now we can’t go about our usual routine, go to our church service, and then go about our life. Now our services, if we have them at all, are only accessible through the blessing of technology. And the church house? Yeah, it’s your home now.
When our church was first faced with the reality of having to switch to online-only services, it was like a cold bucket of water had been splashed in my face. I thought to myself, “All of us are going to find out what our faith really looks like now ... We don’t have the physical church to rely on anymore. We're all going to find out if we really are the church or not; and if we realize we aren’t being the church, we’re going to have some decisions to make.”
That’s a sobering thought.
But I believe that’s the point God is wanting to make.
He has stripped everything else away and is inviting us to sit at His feet and examine our hearts, examine our relationship with Him. Examine what we think it means to be the church.
I was recently reminded of how, from the time the Law was given to Moses, God’s people could only worship Him in the Tabernacle and later, at the Temple in Jerusalem. Jews would travel for miles and miles to bring their sacrifices to this holy place, and even then, only the priests could commune with God directly.
But then Jesus entered the scene.
He came down from Heaven and dwelt among us; He brought His holy presence into our midst for the first time since the Garden of Eden. Then, with that earth-shaking cry of “It is finished!”, the veil separating God’s presence from the common people ripped down its center.
He broke every barrier and made the way for us to be His temple. Yes, the assembly of Christians in one place is an important and powerful part of our faith, but we don’t need a special building to worship God in. Because His presence can now dwell within the hearts of His children, any place can become a temple. Anywhere we are, there His presence can be also.
All He needs is our hearts.
Let this time of “social-distancing” and “quarantine” cause us to go back to our roots. Back to the basics.
The Book of Acts church did not have a designated church building. The Day of Pentecost happened in the upper room of a home in Jerusalem. From there, they continued to gather in each other's homes to pray and fellowship. Paul and Silas even created their own church service in a jail cell!
Now is not the time to be small-minded in our concept of serving God. We are living in unprecedented times, and this truth is becoming clearer every day. I truly believe that these chaotic weeks are God’s boot camp for His people. He is challenging us and calling us higher than we’ve ever been. No more just going through the motions, no more going through a routine. It’s time to rise and rise strong as THE CHURCH that is prepared for the overwhelming wave of revival He is about to send our way.
We never know what the future may bring. One day, the inability to gather and worship in a public place may be the norm. Will we go back to the basics of what matters most and learn to be the church right where we are? Or will we let God’s wake up call to His people fall on deaf ears?