In this third and final post on Stewarding the Storm, we look horizontally toward one another.
If we remember the curse and remember Christ, we shall be compelled to remember care. Just as comfort and hope abound for us in Christ’s promise (John 14:1-3), so the practice of caring love should abound to one another: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34–35). Our horizontal priority as Christ’s redeemed is to love one another. Our love for one another in times like this should shine as a testimony of Christ’s love through the gospel. What does it look like for us to live out such love as Christ’s church? Praying for one another. Calling one another. Writing to one another. Assisting those in need among us. Checking in on one another. Encouraging and expressing care to one another.
Many people around us are scared. Are we thinking, praying, and acting with compassion towards the frightened world around us? Let us remember that we alone possess the final antidote to their fears—Christ. How can we think and act with compassionate care for others instead of looking out merely for ourselves? The testimony of the early church is profound example for us:
“In 165 a plague swept through the mighty Roman Empire, wiping out one in three of the population. It happened again in 251 when 5,000 people per day were dying in the city of Rome alone. Those infected were abandoned by their families to die in the streets. The government was helpless and the Emperor himself succumbed to the plague. Pagan priests fled their temples where people had flocked for comfort and explanation. People were too weak to help themselves. If the smallpox did not kill you, hunger, thirst and loneliness would. The effect on wider society was catastrophic. Yet following the plagues the good reputation of Christianity was confirmed, and its population grew exponentially. Why is this? Christians did not come armed with intellectual answers to the problem of evil. They did not enjoy a supernatural ability to avoid pain and suffering. What they did have was water and food and their presence. In short, if you knew a Christian you were statistically more likely to survive, and if you survived it was the church that offered you the most loving, stable and social environment. It was not clever apologetics, strategic political organisation or the witness of martyrdom which converted an Empire, so much as it was the simple conviction of normal women and men that what they did for the least of their neighbours they did for Christ.” — Thucydides
Let us invest more thought and prayer, compassion and care towards others.
Stewarding the Storm
Public panic tests us. Pandemics test our worldview. This storm will reveal and prove our hearts. It will testify to what we truly value. It will move faith out of theory and into practice. It will demand more than words. Storms force people to cling to what they treasure.
These lenses may help us. This storm can help our reading, our thinking, and our perspective on reality. It can help shake complacent feelings, stir convictions, and humble our proud hearts.
The world we have created tends to make us proud. We are self-sufficient and independent—so we think. We rely upon systems we have constructed. And for the most part, they tend work. We take for granted all of the dependencies necessary for our automobiles to start and run, for lights to come on in our homes, and for clean water to come out of the tap. We have grown accustomed to product distribution systems that enable stores to be stocked and online shopping to deliver to our doorsteps. We take for granted the ease of communication and transportation that we enjoy. Business, education, and entertainment, we just assume that all of these enterprises will march on in our power.
Yet, the summation of all our proud advancements in science and technology are small, flimsy, insecure, and emphatically non-ultimate. Just like that, and the gears of society begin to grind globally. In an instant, all of man’s proud enterprises are brought to their knees by a tiny, invisible germ. How relevant are the words of James:
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13–16).
If COVID-19 teaches us to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that,” we will have become better stewards of grace.
Don’t waste the wait. This is an opportunity to recalibrate, renew your focus of life itself. Steward the storm. When all around is changing and uncertain, let us remember to look to God, “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
Whatever practical realities—health, employment, finances, plans, functions, etc.—occupy your minds, may spiritual realities preoccupy. May we steward this storm and be found closer to Christ—more sensitive to death, eternity, and our dependence on God—than we were before.
“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).