Brothers and Sisters,
I have a new motto. “Life is surreal, Christ is real”. Many times I hear people sounding confused and concerned about what is going on with Covid and indeed many other issues. Sometimes we may wonder ‘where is God in all this?’, or ‘what is God saying?’. I find it interesting how even secular commentators use biblical language to describe what they see as some kind of apocalyptic event. Sadly, within the church, although there are faithful leaders, sometimes there are too many who give simplistic and false answers.
When John Woodhouse made the announcement that week that our new prospective pastor was no longer coming, he pointed out that this was something to be seen as an opportunity, not a disaster. I think he was right. On a far bigger scale the church, and our political and cultural leaders, need to recognise that Covid gives us an opportunity to recognise an opportunity – even in a crisis like Covid. But an opportunity for what?
I don’t believe that the Lord sent Covid to punish Australia for supporting sinful policies- as I have heard some argue. Nor do I believe that God has nothing to do with this – and just stands by helplessly. Over the next few congregational letters I want to look at what God is saying, by looking at what the Bible has to say. What the Word says – God says! It is intriguing to see how many times plague is mentioned in the Bible (along with war, famine and economic ruin).
We begin with Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the temple.
“‘When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel – being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands towards this temple – then hear from heaven, your dwelling-place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.” 1 Kings 8:37-40 NIV
I have heard political leaders, who should have been humbled by their inability to deal with Covid 19, instead proudly proclaim how they are going to defeat it. Sadly, their hubris has often been echoed by the Church. If it is not pride it is despair. But the real response of the people of God is to do what Solomon did – pray, be humbled, and seek the Lord. I am sure that one of the reasons that the Lord has permitted this, is to humble us. Sometimes it is a hard lesson to learn.
We should always read the Old Testament in the light of the New. There is one aspect of Solomon’s prayer that would cause me to despair – if it were not for Christ. “deal with everyone according to all they do” is changed to “deal with me according to what Christ has done.” The difference is eternal. And liberating.
Let’s make sure that we know the joy and peace of the Lord….and that we share this hope with a hopeless world.
My book of the week is a new book that has been receiving rave reviews – Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland. It is a beautiful meditation on the heart of Christ based on the words of Jesus “I am gentle and lowly in heart”. You can order it from The Wandering Bookseller by clicking this link and putting the title in the search.
For those who are interested in looking at what is going on in the world from a Christian perspective I produce a podcast called Quantum every week.
Someone sent me this beautiful piece of music – a great hymn sung by a virtual choir. My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less – here.
Finally, don’t forget the men’s breakfast – this coming Saturday 17th of October at 8am in the Memorial Hall. We continue to look at The Way Forward (a book you can also order through the link for the Wandering Bookseller above).
PS. As usual free feel to contact me if you have any questions, or suggestions for outreach and evangelism, or would even just like to meet up.
You can find all the resources David has previously recommended in one place here.