A story has it that a young man had felt a call to go work with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. He was ready to begin.
Here is the first conversation this young man had with Mother Teresa upon his arrival.
Mother Teresa: “Why have you come here?”
Young man: “I have come to help take care of the poor and the needy.”
Mother Teresa: “Young man, wrong reason. Go home.”
Young man: “What do you mean wrong reason?”
Mother Teresa: “Young man, if you have not come here to love Jesus you will fry. But, if you have come here to love Jesus, you will find him dressed in the distressing disguise of the poor . . . as you start to work with the poor and the needy, you will find Jesus in a new way–you will find him in the distressing disguise of the poor.”
Some people take advantage of a crisis to focus, to listen well (or at least better), and try to hear what God might be saying. I'm trying to listen better
Some people take advantage of crisis for the power they might gain. Some take advantage of crisis to focus on what's important. Some . . . to really listen (or at least well or better than before the crisis). I claim no insight into God's mind and maybe, I'm the only one, but I have been thinking a lot lately as I have been shopping for COVID-19 survival items for my congregation (if anyone needs something) or for my neighbors . . . some early morning pondering . . . So, here's a few things that have been on my mind lately:
☛ This crisis has not caught God by surprise (a cliché, but still true)
☛ Our most vulnerable are truly vulnerable at this time, and that should concern churches
☛ I am way too political (i.e., politically thinking, that is)--and I wish socially minded Christians would stop telling me the gospel is political, which drives us to party politics, not church, not Jesus
☛ Church is easy(er) when we are not facing non-ordinary times; these are non-ordinary times
☛ This non-ordinary time is normal times for much of the global church
☛ Church leaders have not prepared Christians for trying times (well, at least, I have not done as good of a job as I should have–but that doesn't grow churches well these days) . . . and Christians have let the leaders not prepare them for trying times
☛ No matter how temporary this COVID-19 crisis is, it shows us (or should show us anyway) that things for the church can change on a dime (and fast)
☛ Whatever this COVID-19 crisis is, I am convinced this is a test of faithfulness, not only faithful to Jesus, but also a test of faithfulness to church–-not just church in general, but faithfulness to a local church, your particular body of believers
☛ We (i.e., Christians and church leaders) have been counting on the trusted institutions of Christendom to help us maintain the way we do church
☛ We have a poor imagination for doing church, which is a barrier for reaching the lost (i.e., the unchurched).
Okay, I've been thinking a lot.
The threatening crisis–perhaps not just a virus: What about our technology for our churchs' potential in a time of crisis, unasked questions
Two years ago I wrote this. Facebook popped it up on my page as a memory. It is interesting that I said this two years ago and that it is so relevant for much of the church in the USA today. We need a New Testament imagination now. I'd have said, "now more than ever," but we always should have a New Testament imagination for church-gathered. Just because we have the technology (even for a crisis as this) to bring church into everyone's living room, kitchen, or family room, the question is should we.
A number of years ago I read Neil Postman's book Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. I'll leave you with a few quotes from that book. Seems appropriate today. Thought-provoking, I hope.
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.