Well, just as it started to feel like life on the stormy coronavirus seas was beginning to calm, suddenly we’re feeling the effects of the ‘second wave’. Local towns locking down, the mandatory masking up and the rule of six have now become the rule of law.
The love affair with life in the “great indoors” does seem to be waning for many people, as the slow realization that “this could be with us for much longer than we thought” begrudgingly becomes reality.
Amongst all the various challenges that 2020 has presented us with, not least among them is that you and I live with a clear calling to “go”. As disciples of Jesus, each of us are we are commissioned by the Lord of heaven and earth to go and make more disciples – to the radical and risky life of pursuing the adventures of Jesus wherever He sends us.
He couldn’t have been more clear:
Jesus came to them and said,“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So what does the call to “go and make disciples” look like in an era when #stayhome #staysafe becomes the watchword of our day?
The Good News is that we don’t face that question alone.
It’s not like the issue is a new one – after all, at least our lockdown is for medical and not religious reasons. Our Christian family tree is littered with stories of brothers and sisters in Christ who not just survived persecution, but who positively thrived spiritually; and still do turn opposition into opportunity for the sake of the Gospel all over our world today.
Right from the very beginning, the Church has faced up to the issue of faith in lockdown. As early as Chapter 6 of Acts we meet the first Christian martyr which sent the church scattering, most of the letters of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament were written from prison to Christian meeting in house churches (sometimes in secret), John’s revelation of Jesus was written under exile on the Isle of Patmos… As painful as our own experience is it pales into insignificance compared with all of that.
And it was under these extreme circumstances that the Apostle Paul could write to a young pastor:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.
2 TIMOTHY 2.8-9
So, what does the Great Commission look like in life in lockdown in a coronavirus era?
Massive question – but… here’s two things that you and I could think about doing right now:
1. Send for re-enforcements
Jesus calls us first to pray:
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field…”
Mission starts with prayer – God is the ‘Lord of the harvest’ and our world is ‘His harvest field.’ The instruction is clear and simple: “Therefore… ask”.
We may not feel like there is much we can do to help – but prayer is the single greatest help we can offer anyone. “Ask the Lord” Jesus says!
Jesus tells us that the mission field is a mine field of spiritual battles; remember His parable of the Sower:
A farmer went out to sow His seed. As He was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up…
This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
When we seek to spread the word, there are spiritual forces working against that in peoples hearts and minds – the enemy of our souls wants to swoop in, trample on and snatch away the seeds of young faith. But as powerful a pest as our enemy may be, we have direct access to an even more powerful exterminator! Never forget that the One who sends us “into all the world” is the One who has “all authority on heaven and on earth” – despite how inadequate we may feel at times, we go as His ambassadors not as trespassers!
Pray for people today you know who don’t yet know Jesus – target your prayers specifically to one area of the harvest field (maybe just 2-3 people), allow your persistent prayers to shift the spiritual atmosphere, and watch to see what the Lord will do!
2. Have a track-and-traceable faith!
Paul’s call to the church in Ephesus was this:
Follow God’s example in everything you do just as a much loved child imitates his father. Be full of love for others, following the example of Christ who loved you and gave Himself to God as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, for Christ’s love for you was like sweet perfume to Him.
EPHESIANS 5.1-2 (TLB)
The word for “example” in that verse literally means to “mimic because of intense admiration” – our love for God should be visible in the way we live our lives. Our love for others should be recognisable as the kind of sacrificial love we see in Jesus at the cross.
It was Francis of Assisi who reportedly told people to “preach the gospel at all times… and where necessary – use words.”
In a day when our usual church programs are on hold – can our faith in Jesus still be tracked and traced? Can others see it in our actions (and reactions!), and feel it in our love and concern?
For those of us finding ourselves doing more of life online (however begrudgingly) – we can ask the question of all we share: “What would Jesus tweet?” In all our interactions with our followers and friends how often does Jesus, the one we profess to follow, the “friend closer than a brother” even get a mention?
It’s easier than ever to invite people to church – they don’t even have to leave their house, and if they want to leave early, nobody would know! It’s easier than ever to share an invitation to the Alpha Course via WhatsApp or Facebook or whatever you use- the words don’t even have to escape our lips. Who knows who is “one ask away” from attending, and that invitation is now just “one click away.”!
We’ve mailed out a bunch of paper invites too, so that all the info is in one quick and easy place so that you can hand it to someone, pin up somewhere or post through a letterbox. We may chose to #stayathome but that doesn’t mean we have to #playitsafe when it comes to spreading the word!
How about you? How are you finding ways to share your hope in Jesus?
For more about our upcoming zoom Alpha course, check out: