Standard disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily representative of Living Word Lutheran Church.
Well, here we are in July, halfway through the year 2020. What a first half this has been! The majority of the year has been overshadowed by the pandemic, social distancing, civil unrest, discussions of systemic racism, business closings, event cancellations, and more. It certainly hasn't been an easy first half of the year.
One thought that I have been considering is: How have I, as a Christian, been doing so far this year? Maybe its time to give ourselves a mid-year grade. Here are some of the grading criteria that I have thought of:
Have I drawn closer to God?
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8 NIV
We have been on stay-at-home orders and practicing social distancing so there is really no excuse not to spend more time with God. We are not driving to many public events or spending time doing everything we used to do in our pre-pandemic lives. I feel blessed that I still have a full time job and that none of my family is directed affected by Covid-19, but I still have more time to spend in God's Word and to spend praying, simply having conversations with our Father. And speaking of praying...
Have I been praying for others?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 NIV
We have been called to intercessors, to pray and petition on the behalf of others. We’ve got to pray for God to heal us either with His almighty power or by equipping scientists with the answers. We must pray for those affected – those infected themselves or know people who are. People are dying daily and people are experiencing deep loneliness; it’s an emotional and mental battle too. It’s also necessary that we pray for those people on the front lines: for all doctors, nurses, cleaners, police officers, security guards, etc. We must also pray for those who have lost their jobs and don’t know how they are going to get through the rest of the year. We need to pray for all the businesses that are struggling and/or closed. We need to pray for everyone affected by civil unrest and discrimination. We need to pray!
Have I been a good example of a Christian?
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 NIV
As you are well aware, we are inundated with information and news from all sorts of sources. I have been grateful for some of the health advice and recommendations, but I am certainly tired of all the bad news. I think that as Christians, we are called to spread hope, not fear; encouragement, not conspiracy theories, positive views, not gloom and despair. Think about what you are posting on social media and what you are saying to others... does it do more harm than good? Ae you trying to help others that need help? Helping to support your community? Trying to share the love of Jesus in practical ways? Now is the time to be a light and "shine on"!
Have I been obeying the "rules"?
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1 NIV
I may not always agree with everything I am told to do, but I need to try to follow the guidance of our leaders. I believe that most of them are trying to make the best of a bad situation and trying to save lives. If you really believe that our leaders are making poor decisions that are contrary to God's will, you can still remain respectful. There should not be civil disobedience simply to be rebellious. Let's not be counter-productive in society simply because of our attitude.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10vNIV
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV
Through all of this, we need to realize that God is in control. He specializes in turning bad situations into good. There are plenty of reasons for fear and panic, but remember that God will not give us more than we can handle. He is always with us and gives us peace. God can use this worldwide crisis to unite His church and His people. "God is faithful."
So how have you been doing so far? Whether good or bad, I pray that we can and will do better the second half of 2020.