"I don't want you to panic …. I want you to think."

“I don’t want you to panic, I want you to think.” Those words are striking, they come from a young German activist who has taken an opposing position to Greta Thunberg. I quoted her in my first video chat “Don’t Worry.”  

Whatever your position on climate change and whether you agree with either view point, those words are challenging in a world that is panicking.  Once we start to panic it is actually very difficult to stop and think.  Yet, this is exactly what we are going to need to do. The Government have had to think, to weigh up options.  Man does not live by bread alone, food is not the only essential, we are social beings and that interaction is essential to life. However, in a hopefully short term situation, our national response to crisis means that some “essentials” are prioritised. We are all now having to respond thoughtfully to the new situation.

But our thinking needs to go further and deeper.  Over the past few days, Christians have been starting to wrestle hard with the question “What do we do when we cannot physically gather.”  Here are two things people are now thinking about.

  • We say that church is not the building. But what happens when it has to close? Some of us  have simply started to live stream from our living rooms. Others felt it important to be filmed at front of the usual meeting place. How do we make that decision.
  • What exactly is communion?  The discussion started when churches were working out what to do once it was clearly impossible to share a common cup. For some of us the move to individual glasses seemed important but for others a shared cup was essential even to the point that if they could not have that then they would prefer not to share the wine at all. Now the question is “Can we have communion at all if we cannot be physically present together.”

At first glance, those questions may seem trivial in the context of life and death decisions but the underlying theology (what we know and believe about God, Creation, Humanity and New Creation) gets us asking deeper and bigger questions about how we relate to one another, what it means to be human and how we know God.  So, not only does what we believe affect how we live but what we do tells us a lot about what we believe. I will be exploring these questions in more detail in future posts.

First of all though, the even bigger question at the moment is about how we get through the next few months. In yesterdays video cast I said that we don’t just want to survive but to be holy. However at these first stages, realistically the survival question is dominant.  It is not just about getting through with our physical health intact. It is about surviving emotionally and spiritually too. 

This takes us to another consideration. We will share devotions over the next few months but encouraging thoughts won’t get us through. Even simply individual sermons looking at specific Bible passages won’t get us through. In order to answer the questions and face the struggle ahead we need an underpinning theology that is truthfully rooted in God’s Word. In other words we need to see and grasp the big picture of how our experience fits in to the picture of who God is, what he is like and what he is doing.

The next few months will be impossible if:

  • We see God as angry and distant. Or near but small and weak
  • We believe that this world is chaotic and disordered. We see material things as inherently bad or we fail to consider the affect of the Fall
  • We think that we are alone as humans. We fail to grasp that we are made in God’s image. We think purely in physical terms or we see ourselves as invincible.
  • We cannot see how God’s big story of redemption unfolds. There isn’t hope.  We cannot see beyond the grave. We are not expectant of Christ’s return.

We believe in a good, sovereign and loving God. We believe that this world was made good but subject to the fall. We know that we were made in God’s image but are finite and fallen too. We know that we were made for company (“it is not good for man to be alone.”). We look forward in hope knowing that the big story we are in is not tragedy and so the ending will be greater than the beginning.

Join me as we apply those big truths to facing Coronavirus together.

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