by Dave McNee
Generally speaking – Life Church is a contemporary church; most of the songs we sing were written in my lifetime, you can get all the communication that the church puts out digitally, there is no element of our Sunday meetings that doesn’t use some kind of technology, we use tablets to sign up for stuff and those tablets aren’t made of stone, we even have occasional gatherings for people who work in the tech industry – jobs that wouldn’t have existed just a couple of decades ago.
But in these troubling times I’m extremely glad that Christianity is old.
We have already sent out an update on how Life Church will be operating under the current government guidelines, and given how quickly the winds of change seem to be blowing at the moment it is likely that we will have to update those plans and inform you of them again in the coming days and weeks.
I am writing to you today with a different purpose. To help us to understand what it means to live in times like these as a Christian. How do we begin to make sense of it and how do our hearts respond. And this is why it’s a good thing that Christianity is old – because while these things are unprecedented for us many Godly Christians have lived through similar such times and we can learn much from them.
I will share just 2 of them with you here.
This morning I had a phone call with a man who is 77 years old who was having to think very carefully about travelling and attending public gatherings.
Many people will understandably be afraid at the moment; For your own health or the health of loved ones – particularly those who have pre-existent conditions that make them more vulnerable. For those who work in the health services and how this may effect them and their work. For those whose livelihoods may be put at risk by the consequences that Covid-19 has societally.
For those who are afraid – can I bless you with these words, written in the 16th Century in a document called the Heidelberg Catechism:
What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sin with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of my eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
The problem with the assurances that we have as Christians stated above is that it could lead to a kind of recklessness in the face of current circumstances. This is would be unnecessary foolish stupid sinful.
In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus is asked what is the greatest commandment. His response? Love God and to love your neighbour. You couldn’t hope to find 2 better controlling principles to live your life by than those, even in the midst of a pandemic. And to act with a foolish recklessness in the face of current circumstances is to ignore Jesus command to love our neighbour.
And loving one another right now begins with such simple things as regularly washing our hands, staying at home if we are unwell and phoning people who are not able to meet with others to make sure they aren’t forgotten.
Let’s go to the 16th Century again. Earlier today a friend of mine sent me what the German Reformer Martin Luther wrote during the Bubonic Plague.
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed. If my neighbour needs me, however, I will go freely. See this is faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
One person paraphrased Luther’s idea like this; “neither fear death nor court danger – we follow the death defeating Christ, not a cult of fearlessness and folly”
Do not be afraid Life Church. And do not stop loving one another.