This is a follow up to a note shared yesterday. Start there!
From Virus to Revival? We Pray.
Written from Brussels, Belgium
Does Christ Jesus have your utmost affection? Or is it your favorite football team, or the approval you receive from others? Or is it your weekly routine and the paycheck you earn and your possessions? What does a holistic look at our lives show us to honestly value most?
What of us as believers? Take time to contemplate what is in your heart, friend. Are we truly walking by faith, or does selfishness drive our every motivation? Do we thank the Lord moment to moment for His every grace, or do we carry on in the construction of our own feeble kingdoms which always fall like a house made of cards, whether in a hurricane or a gentle wind? May we see more clearly now that no matter our efforts, we are not ultimately in control. May the Lord use this, opening your eyes to your purpose on this globe for this short time called life: be about the advance of the Kingdom through the spread of the Gospel. You have the privilege of bearing the only message of everlasting hope, in the midst of a hopeless humanity, at a marked time in history. Take up your cross, brother. Follow Jesus, sister.
May the coronavirus serve the purposes of our God and King, as a gift. Why on earth would I say this?In moments of uncertainty, unbelievers who are consumed with this earthly life only, contemplate mortality and eternity—they give room to thoughts which otherwise go downplayed or disregarded. We don’t long for anyone to live in fear and worry, but we hope that it would push them to seek the only eternal hope, the Truth of the Gospel, our loving Counselor and Sustainer, Jesus. Jesus our Lord and Jesus our Savior. I have prayed that by all means God would use good or bad circumstances, even dire events, to bring about salvation of my lost family members and friends.
People are considering that they may die. The fact of the matter is, we all will. No matter the technological or medicinal advances, death is the inevitable end, without any escape clause. It will likely not come through the coronavirus. Some are fearful now that it may approach sooner than later. Many are the elderly who are more susceptible, along with anyone scarred by a compromised immune system or lung deficiency. Asthmatics like myself have some concern. All in all, we can be sure of few things in this life. One thing we ought to acknowledge is that life will surely end: someday, somehow, our lungs will breathe their last.
Our society is largely sanitized from recognizing this fate. We make it our aim to bypass any thought of death. It surprises us every time someone we know dies, or when we hear of a celebrity’s passing. We think for a few days or weeks surrounding the funeral services, before falling back in line. In many parts of Africa where I have traveled, death is not so distant. Lack of food and unclean water are the norm, with little medical attention available. The fear of infection and deadly disease is always knocking at the door (do we care for and pray for these people, ordinarily?). You bury your own relatives when they die. You dig the hole in the ground and shovel the dirt over top of the casket holding the lifeless body of your beloved.
In the Western world, our medical and emergency personnel bear the brunt of this weight. We see it cause psychological trauma as they carry heaviness alone, aiming to shield you and me from the reality of life’s end. Maybe this serves to benefit you and me, but perhaps we experience a spiritual detriment in the process, growing too distant from acknowledging reality: life will end. I believe this puts priorities in perspective in a way nothing else can. It brings my affections under question. It changes my love of work, or rather what I am working towards. It alters my care for my family, knowing tomorrow is not guaranteed. It brings me to care for my neighbors better, as they suffer. May we know something of this reality, only in the wake of potential challenges ahead.
As a youth worker, I have seen too many parents who just don’t have the time for their children or their spouse; I am not speaking of legitimate reasons here, where someone is striving to make ends meet. I am talking about un-love, guised as some sort of care. I am speaking of the workaholics who bear the label of Christian but run the race with the most expedient materialists. We deceive ourselves. Believer, confess sins with your family in this time. Acknowledge wrongdoing and hurts inflicted. Be honest with yourself. Confess whatever ways you have turned away from the cross. Be made right with God this day. Take initiative, through unchartered waters onto foreign ground, and cultivate a time of family devotion and worship. It is worthwhile to navigate through the awkwardness. This will honor the Lord, and serve your family well. Your children’s souls are largely dependent on you submitting your life to Jesus.
Also, we have men and women and youth and children in the church addicted to pornography and video games and entertainment of every sort. Please pause. Please pause and see that God has a plan for your life. Maybe that is not what you have sought after here recently. Don’t remain under your old sins which lead to death. Don’t waste your time. Don’t crawl back into your old prison when you’ve been set free. Don’t fall in line with the societal norms, neglecting the brevity of this life, and living only for material gain. Set your eyes again on the living hope that we have in Christ Jesus. Set your mind again on things above, not the things of this earth. Be made pure. The Lord is able to wash your hands, to cleanse your heart, to purify your soul. Ask Him.
Remember that Christ died, shedding His blood, to ransom you out of the very sin which has bound you, the idolatry which enslaves; and He has transferred you into His righteousness, into life and into light. Don’t turn back to weak and worthless things, believer. I want to emphasize this: if you already have, do not go on in shame or as a loner. Rather, repent. You cannot do this alone; but the Spirit will strengthen and enable you. Fix your eyes this very moment to Jesus. Read the Word. Open up with a trusted friend. Call out to God who is there. He is not far off, and He will hear you. He will rescue you, and He will use you. May we return to our workplace and our schools bearing a marked change of pace, one in step with the Spirit.
Do we really believe what we say we believe? May we walk by faith in the midst of the heights and valleys. Is faith something we only talk about theoretically when the circumstances are fitting, in times that don’t seem to require faith in the Sovereign King? Are we trusting in Jesus plus self, or in Christ alone—are we walking with Him, faith lived out? Do we operate based on worldly wisdom which is foolishness before God Almighty, or do we have the wisdom which is given from above to those who fear God and ask it of Him?
Am I presently waving the banner of Jesus? Is my identity entirely in Him? Am I sharing His name, His Word, the whole Gospel message which has been entrusted to me as His child? If faith comes through hearing and hearing through the Word, then the faithful must speak. Are the lost hearing from me, that they might draw near to God? Am I honest about being a broken but redeemed vessel? Do I share that anyone may be used as an instrument of righteousness?
Does my workplace know the Jesus I serve? Do they see the Christian faith on display through me, and how it is not like any other religious affiliation? Is the Spirit of the living God dwelling within me recognizable? Do I make the Truth known through compassionate pleas and love poured out? Or is our selfishness and alignment with the world preventing us from doing something radical for the sake of the Gospel? I think of the beautiful message delivered by our pastor this morning here in Brussels. It was on the woman pouring the full contents of her alabaster jar over Jesus in Mark 14. Are we following in her devotion to the Lord, or aiming to preserve our earthly treasures? Do we cheer on this level of beautiful sacrifice, ourselves as partakers, or are we found rebuking along with the confused disciples? May we be found faithful, today and evermore. Be faithful.
Does the hysteria and the hopelessness of March 15th stir us all the more to live evangelistically? It must. If not, we must check our pulse. Whether in a nation that largely claims to know God (such as my beloved United States), or in an atheistic or agnostic place (where I currently reside and love to call home), do we proclaim Jesus boldly even when it means others may view us poorly? Are we ready to be called unintelligent, perhaps earning ridicule, for the sake of those will hear the message of a living hope in Christ and be saved? I pray we are readying our minds for action, daily. I pray we live and move and discern with wisdom from above, loving our Lord and Savior and our neighbor as ourselves. This is just a short list of how God is able, in and through this strife, to bring about glory. He can bring it about in you. He can bring about His honor and praise through the people you know, those you choose to reach out to this very day.
At the end of it all, Jesus gets the glory. The only question is how we will participate? The Gospel will reach to our neighbors and to the nations…and I believe God is clearly at work through something the world calls a virus. I carry on praying for spiritual revival, close relationship with God. Not just a world that knows about Jesus, but a people that walk with Him and joy in His Word and the life He brings. I pray for professing believers to recognize they are to follow Christ. Trust me: as you trust Him, He will provide. He brought from this formerly fearful and timid, hateful, greedy for the world, selfish yet self-loathing, porn-addicted, introverted child a man after God’s own heart by the blood of Jesus Christ—now made ready to share for the remainder of life. He humbled the proud. He will also work this in you. Seek and ye shall find.
Revival rests in the hearts of believers made bold, made ready. Seek that the Holy Spirit would work through us this day, and in all the days lavished on us by God’s grace. May we make the most of livestream fellowship and communication from a distance, in this strange time, reaching out to individuals. Make use of your social media platform to share your hope. And all the more in person, as we are able.
This is our purpose.
BELOW is a broadcast shared with our youth on Friday, as we were unable to gather together here in Belgium. The message itself begins at the 10 minute mark.