“These are the times that try men’s souls,” wrote Thomas Paine. The year was 1776, the same year the thirteen American colonies broke from their mother country and declared independence as a free nation. They were brave men and women who fought for what they believed in, who they were, and the future they desired. Their trying times gave birth to the greatest nation on the face of the earth—the United States of America.
Our trying times should give birth to something greater as well. We should never be the same person when we come through trying times and out on the other side of pain and struggle. God allows such times because they test us to see what we’re made of. Are our hearts right before Him? Are our motives for a worthy cause? Do we want the thing bad enough to sacrifice something to obtain it?
I can’t help but wonder what changes COVID-19 will bring to us. For some reason God has allowed it, and it has and will affect so many things about our lives—what we do, where we go, how we act and react to a new normal. And then there is the Church—will the Church of Jesus Christ emerge better than we were before COVID-19? Could God be using these trying times to iron out our wrinkles so we will be ready for the Bridegroom when He comes? And what might the new normal for the Church look like?
I have a few things I would like to see change ~ my wish list, if you will.
Number 1: Christians would be one with each other, just as Jesus is one with the Father. If God has done anything in this season it is to marginalize the denominational lines that divide us. These divisions of separation need the searing hot iron in God’s mighty hand to smooth out those deeply embedded creases. Our pet doctrines need to melt away or at least be shelved. (I won’t be holding my breath on that one.) Our prejudices and jealousy must not exist in our new normal. All arrogance and pride should be gone as we emerge from this pandemic storm.
Number 2: Another change I would like to see is the leveling of the playing field among Christ’s followers. During this time, we see famous spiritual leaders, teachers, televangelists, singers, writers, speakers, etc. now standing shoulder to shoulder beside the weakest among us. We all recognize our desperate need for Him. We all feel the same stress. We all feel the same uncertainty. We all feel the same neediness. Our one heart’s cry that rises to the heavens in true harmony (something that doesn’t happen often) is this: “Oh God, we need YOU!”
If we’ve learned anything during this season of unrest, it is that the church building is not the church. Our denomination is not the church. Our platform and style of worship is not the church. Since those things are not the Church, then it seems apparent that we must now figure out what the Church of Jesus Christ is actually supposed to be.
Could it be that a conceit for our way of doing things and a disdain for other’s way of doing things will have no place of expression on the other side of the pandemic? Oh God, may this be true! Lest we stand together as one unified body of born-again believers, our religious freedoms will vanish before our eyes.
Could it be the efforts to grow our church, our brand of Christianity, our form of worship will cease and be replaced with all of God’s children serving Him and each other in one accord and waiting before Him? After all, wasn’t that the atmosphere that set the stage for the coming of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts? Wasn’t that the very match that lit the fires of revival and church explosion? It was!
During this season of seeking the Church’s true place in God’s Kingdom, it should be the desire of our hearts that we emerge from COVID-19 as a changed people—less divided, less critical, less proud, and more like our Savior who gave up everything for us? Do we owe Him anything less?
As the Church seeks to find our new normal, may we keep in mind that before the Church can love the world, we must first learn to love each other.
Somehow, I believe that Jesus’ wish list for His Church may look a lot like mine.
Blessings to all as we face the new normal of Christianity. ~ Janie