April 29, 2020
There's nothing like a pandemic to bring out the best and the worst in people. I can't say I'm surprised, these things have a way of showing people's true colours and where their confidence, or can I say, suspicions, lie.
What is disheartening is what I'm seeing and hearing from those who claim to be followers of Jesus, Worse yet, are those who hold leadership platforms who are using them in ways that is, at least in my mind, not only disheartening, but downright embarrassing.
Now before we get into the heart of this post, I will tell you what this post is not about. It's not about arguing over the timeline of when we can start normalizing our lives, or criticisms against the handling of the lockdowns, or even if the measures of social distancing are contrary to herd immunity and blah, blah, blah.
This blog is not even going to be about the financial fallout or criticisms about the mishandling of the country's economic future. Can we just admit that we are all sharing in a lot of pain, anxiety, and uncertainty when it comes to these matters?
Frankly, I can't imagine being a political leader or health-care minister having to make decisions that are affecting the lives and livelihood of millions. I'm sure that they are being bombarded with information, potential scenarios, healthcare infrastructure limitations and projections of economic fallout while through it all trying to navigate a path that doesn't decimate the healthcare system and result in huge loss of life. These are difficult days which call for difficult decisions.
What I do want to get off my chest is the rather embarrassing things happening within Christendom by those who claim allegiance to Jesus and His kingdom. Some of you are going to find this offensive, but I simply cannot sit back and watch a small faction of 'believers' drag down the Name of Jesus and His church. So, without further delay, here are my pleas to you!
Please stop with the conspiracy theories!
I can't even begin to know where to start with this one. To imply this has been a manufactured crisis is one thing, but to not take seriously its present implications and its reality is nothing short of mind-blowing. This IS real, regardless of how it started. People are dying, have died, and more are going to die! If there is a sinister motivation behind it that will all come out at some point, especially since the entire globe is battling this thing.
Also, isn't this the first time in recent memory we are seeing a global response to taking care of the 'least of these'? Normally, the way forward is a kind of social Darwinism that says, 'only the strong should survive.' But here, we are seeing the 'Christian' ethic of taking care of the elderly, disadvantaged, and those with compromised immunities. Isn't this the very thing Jesus advocated in the Great Commandment that to love God, also meant to love your neighbour. What did Jesus mean in Matthew 25 when he said that whatever we do to the 'least' of these we are doing to him? (Matt 22:37; 25:40; Romans 13:10; James 1:27).
Focusing on the conspiracy takes energy away from an opportunity we have to touch lives in real ways, especially when for many, fear, anxiety, and economical trauma are real and present dangers. Conspiracy theorists do nothing more than transfer fear into rage, neither of which are healthy emotions at this time. Have we forgotten that we live in a fallen world and whether it's a pandemic, a war, a natural disaster or whatever, we need to be about our Father's business?
Please stop making this an occasion for ridicule!
This goes back to a point I made in the previous section. This is real. This is one of those cultural moments that will affect our world in ways we can't fully grasp right now. But to make it an opportunity for heartless memes and a platform for your sarcasm because you found one article about a remote city that handled this differently, just adds to the growing anxiety people are experiencing.
Here's what happens. In crisis moments, people tend to look at the church, especially as a means to find some sense of purpose and meaning in the crisis. When we ridicule the way it's being handled, we are by implication, ridiculing the people who are affected and hurting by it. So much for the church being of any help. Did you know, that most, if not all revivals in history, were predicated by a crisis?
This is not a time for ridicule, but a time for the church to be THE CHURCH! Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble, but He has overcome the world! (John 16:33). Shouldn't that be the message at this juncture of history? And didn't Jesus also say that He would build His church and the gates of hell itself could not prevail against it (Matt 16:18). Which brings me to my last point.
Please stop making this an attack on the freedom of the church!
Of the three, this one troubles me the most. I get that there is a principle here, that there is a tension between government intervention into the assembly of the church, but this is not one of those moments. Can it eventually lead to that, possibly, but hear me out on this?
To the church leaders who are defying social distancing and gathering orders and still meeting, it is the height of arrogance and pride. Sorry, it just tells me that you are more interested in your platform than respecting the potential harm you could bring to others.
It also implies that you were probably caught unprepared when this whole pandemic struck. You couldn't or wouldn't pivot to online services and were likely ill prepared for accepting offerings too. Maybe you are panicking because you feel the entire model of church that you depended on is suddenly thrown into a state of confusion for what to do next.
But to use this moment as an attack on your freedom demonstrates that you cannot play well with others. Yeah, there is definitely a tension here on a political/social level, but don't use the freedom argument to defy acting as a good citizen to the community in which you serve.
No matter, if you have so little concern for the people under your care, and if you have so little faith in Jesus who said the church will always exist, despite the best devices the devil can throw at it, then maybe you should question whether ministry is really your calling.
Remember how Paul wrote to the churches in Rome and Corinth concerning 'weaker' believers, and that we need to at times, defer our rights for their sake? That there are times when we should set aside our need to exercise our freedom for the sake of others (Romans 14-15; 1 Cor 8-9). Oh yeah, and what about those verses about obeying those in government, whom I believe are trying to do their best in the midst of difficult times (Rom 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14).
Believe it or not, it's in these moments in history where the church truly shines. Right now, we are experiencing growth in many churches, despite not meeting physically, a surge of people checking out churches for the first time, an army of churches and volunteers who in a scant few weeks have totally reconditioned their ministries for this new reality and seeing people responding to the Gospel. This is what the church does when the church IS BEING THE CHURCH!
One beautiful example of this recently was a Good Friday service where over 117,000 people made professions of faith in Christ through a streamlined service, "Bible Quarantine." These professions were made in over 100 nations in 43 different languages. Rather than treat this pandemic as a conspiracy, an attack on freedom, or any other number of perspectives, this group saw it as an opportunity and an open door to reach more people, at a time when hope is what many are looking for.
But for those of you who don't fully grasp this and instead are embarrassing Jesus and His church, please stop!
May 04, 2020
30 Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. 31 Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater.
Imagine that; Provincial Officials telling the apostle Paul not to risk is life by assembling with others
April 30, 2020
Bold statements, Jon. Good reminders about trusting Christ, serving “the least of these”, and encouraging each other to good works and civil obedience
When someone starts up with the conspiracy theory line, I remind them that I was a kid during the Cold War and that I heard the same things 50 years ago!
A very refreshing and sound article. Conspiracy theories are almost always lies, and we know who is the father of lies. That conspiracy theories work against the church is a great result for him. It is unfortunate that politicians, particularly wealthy Americans, have worked to divide society into extreme hard left and hard right positions. The right has traditionally had a solid base of Christians, but also people holding freedom as more important than love and community. Sadly, the freedom worshippers have been able to pull in many Christians, resulting in some losing track of their true leader, Jesus, and becoming fearful (as Jeff mentions above). I have confidence in church members as role models, and great hope that the wonderful social cooperation happening these days will result in a society and economy that values people more than last year. Love God, love others, change the world!
April 29, 2020
Well said Jon. This is not an attack on religious liberty at this time, although the Aylmer group has me thinking there might have been some overreach on the part of the Police.
Agreed! Thanks for this bold share.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.
Thank you Pastor Jon for this much needed admonition!!!
Very well put Jon. He is still in control
When people are down, the only thing to do,LOOK UP.
Well said, Pastor…
We certainly need to keep first things first… His last command to us was to take the “Good News” into all the World.
So, we too need to be about our Father’s Business…
We do need to understand the signs of our time… Truth always wins out over Un-Truth or propaganda.
However, we do need to be able to discern the truth… Jesus told His Disciples to wait in Jerusalem until He sent to them the Comforter… the Holy Spirit who will lead us into Truth. He who knows all Truth will reveal the Truth that we need, to overcome the Lies / Deception of the Evil One.
As we all know… Greater is He that is in us… then he that is in the world! Psalm 56:3 What time I am afraid, I will TRUST in thee!
So, I agree… LET THE CHURCH BE THE CHURCH!
Good morning Jon,
Thank you for your well thought out perspectives on those 3 important topics. Personally, I’ve been holding onto 6 words from Jesus and sharing them whenever opportunity arises. ’ fear not, be anxious for nothing’. Those in my world who are not part of a faith community need to hear words filled with hope. Those within the church, as you have observed, tend to be all over the map. Any ship in a storm needs to keep it’s bearings on course and always keep an eye on the lighthouses along the way.
Let us continue to fix our eyes on Jesus, for there is no other place to go. I hope you and yours are well Jon.
Glad you spoke up so well, Jon!
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May 13, 2020
April 16, 2020
This is my newest grandson, Noah. I already have scads of pictures of him even though he just turned two months old, but this one is my favourite.
For a time I couldn't figure out why it rose to the top, but after one gruelling day of trying to manage life in the midst of a pandemic it suddenly hit me.
March 10, 2020