The other day, I wrote about the lessons that the UK as a country needs to be looking at if it’s to learn from the pandemic for the future. What about the church? What lessons are we learning as Christians from the pandemic? Well, someone of those lessons are not really going to become clearer until we see how things play out as we return out of lockdown. However there are some things we can start to look out for and to consider. Here is the first one.
What has God been teaching us?
This is the crucial question. Whilst I keep repeating that I see nothing that permits us to declare COVID-19 to have been a specific judgement on specific countries or churches for specific sin, it is right to consider how God uses our circumstances to teach us and to grow us. In that respect, we must see the impact of COVID-19 as being one of the things that God has used to discipline us. In so far as we have suffered individually and corporately, we need to recognise how God uses suffering to produce hope through character building endurance. Have we seen God doing that in our lives over the past year?
Could it be that through COVID-19, God was challenging us not to put our trust in idols and to cling to Christ alone more and more. I have mentioned in previous posts that COVID has challenged us where put too much trust in the numbers of fringe attendees and too much reliance on our ministries and programmes. Furthermore, for many, the pandemic has been an encouragement to find space to rest, a sabbatical if you like. This has created opportunities for daily connection with others for prayer and to look at Scripture. I know quite a few people who have grown in their prayer life and grown in God’s Word.
Then there have been the lessons about refinement and purification. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3 describes the final judgement day and warns leaders that if they have built with combustible and temporary materials then they will escape with their lives but their life work will be burnt up. Have we been through a mini-refining-fire ahead of that day? Should we stop to ask what has survived and what got burnt up. The Government’s theme is all about the need to “build back better”. Will we? If we are going to then we need to be using the right materials.
I hope that each of us, individually and corporately as part of our churches have learnt through COVID-19 to allow God’s Word to disagree with us.