“Could you bring me some half and half,” read my text to Susan who was in our fourth-floor apartment in the World Impact Centre. I was quarantined in my office on the third floor and the powdered creamer wasn’t “doing it” anymore for my K-cup coffee. Our son, Chase, had some mild symptoms of the flu last week, so I picked him up at college to bring him home. Thus, the quarantine in my office, which also became my bedroom. Covid-19 and all that comes with it, is now the norm, i.e., quarantines, “shelter-in-place”, etc. So, in this new “norm”, how does the Church stay clear, focused and zealous for the Kingdom? Three expressions: Jesus is Lord. The Gospel. Souls.
Souls. By 2050, the United Nations estimates 2.5 billion more people living in our cities. Combine this with the already 7+ billion and we are talking some staggering numbers living on this “small blue planet.” Governments will wrestle through all the social implications as our cities grow in numbers. We see this even now with the pandemic. World, nation and local governments, are making decisions that effect billions of people. How will the Church wrestle with the spiritual implications of souls and their eternal destiny? Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” ~ Matthew 16:26
The Gospel. Recent research by Barna on the “faith trend” in the U.S., reveals a great and growing challenge before us. There is a general reluctance to, “engage in spiritual conversations”, an “aversion to evangelism” and the “erosion of religious belief and practice.” They qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals who meet nine or more of their 13 criteria: do not believe in God, identify as atheist or agnostic, agree Jesus committed sins, to name a few. This doesn’t even speak into the “faith trend” of the world. How will the Church steward the Gospel? Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” ~ Mark 16:15
Jesus is Lord. Covid-19, has pandemic implications, but it has no effect on the Lordship of Jesus. His life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension has set Him above every kingdom, nation, and pandemic. “U Can’t Touch This” (M.C. Hammer). Nothing can touch the Lord. Everything, everyone, visible and invisible will submit to the Lord. “The Kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” ~ Revelation 11:15
So now, souls, the Gospel, and Jesus is Lord abide, these three; but the greatest of these is Jesus is Lord. This is how I maintain my zeal in the new norm. It keeps me clear, focused and zealous. As J.I. Packer defined it, “A zealous person in religion is pre-eminently a person of one thing…He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; he burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God’s glory.” Paul to the Church in Rome, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” ~ Romans 12:11