God’s Word and the Pandemic: Where Do We Go From Here?
September 28, 2021 | Tracy Troxel
Lessons We Ought to be Learning in the Pandemic
The sovereign Lord of everything has not lost control, even when our world seems unpredictable and unstable. The Lord disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:3-11). We often think about that discipline as punishment or a negative, but it can simply mean that he teaches us. Therefore, it’s essential to ask, “What is the Lord teaching us through this experience?”
- The pandemic ought to be teaching us humility. We cannot control the virus. We cannot make life risk-free. We don’t understand the virus completely. Our understanding of the virus changes over time. While masks, vaccines and social distancing help reduce infection, we do not depend on these measures alone to make us safe. Our hope, help and security come from Jesus Christ. Some of the frustration and disunity in the country and in the church at-large comes from our inability to grasp that we are not in control.
- The pandemic ought to be teaching us how to suffer. We believe that the North American Church was woefully unprepared for the suffering of Covid-19. The pandemic has increased the risk of sickness and death for coming to church, yet we are called to person-to-person ministry. The church at-large was not prepared for this. Some demand that the church be perfectly safe while others chafe at the inconvenience of wearing a mask. We could learn much from believers all over the world who face far more risk than we do just to go to their house-church. Many believers encounter disease (with far more limited medical resources), plague, famine, and persecution in ways that we have never experienced. Yet they continue to persevere in that suffering and continue to take big risks to follow Jesus. We have much to learn. It is very likely that Covid-19 will be with us for a long time. We will have more opportunities to learn perseverance, deference to others and how to suffer for Jesus.
Lesson #3-The Priority of the Church
- As God’s people we are called to an incarnational, person-to-person ministry. This was modeled to us by Jesus Himself. The church is now the visible demonstration of Christ as we meet together for worship, teaching and mutual encouragement. It is non-negotiable. It is easy to forget that the entire redemption plan of God is centered in His church, and the church cannot be the church fully if it is not meeting together in community. We know that the pandemic forced us to make all kinds of adjustments, yet we cannot forget that we are called to love and serve one another in community. Technology provides a critically valuable tool, but it is not a complete substitute for in-person ministry and does not enable us to love and to serve each other and the community in the full manner that we are called to do.
It’s important that we share some common expectations as the situation develops in the coming months, and we continue trying to live by the principles sketched above. What can you expect moving forward?
- Our priority is for Stone Hill to be the church in real person-to-person community – so we will attempt to be fully open.
- Since we expect the pandemic to ebb and flow, we may make adjustments to our services for the sake of:
- Actual physical safety which is part of spiritual care for the whole person and our community.
- Accommodating a congregation with different sets of risk aversion.
- Showing deference to legitimately exercised governmental authority.
- Since we expect the pandemic to ebb and flow, we are asking the congregation to pray for:
- Unity by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Humility to understand that we are not in control but God is in control.
- Endurance as we suffer through this together.
- Since we believe in a person-to person incarnational ministry we are asking you to consider:
- Coming to church as you are able to do so (Please feel no guilt or pressure to come). We will continue the virtual service for the foreseeable future.
- Learning to joyfully defer to others for the sake of unity and for the sake of love for your brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Praying that we will be able to take responsible risks for Christ and His redemption program in the church.
- Sharing your concerns directly with leadership.
We are asking our great God of endurance and encouragement to grant that the body at Stone Hill Church can live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that we can glorify together, with one voice, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope. (Rom. 5)