Loving others Essentially
Love is essential, not meeting places.
Yesterday morning I was enjoying my coffee while sitting on the couch. My husband and son were still in bed. So, I was all alone early in the morning, and the house was just so quiet. Anyway, I began thinking about this sheltering at home stuff, and I began to think about Jesus when He went into the desert to fast. I had read that chapter in Matthew 4 several weeks ago and it just kept coming to my mind lately.
Remember how Jesus went into the wilderness and how He was tempted of the devil over in Matthew 4? Do you realise how long Jesus was there in the desert all by himself fasting—nothing to eat, nobody else there but God looking down on Him and the devil showing up to tempt Him? 40 days! 40 days and 40 nights. (Matthew 4:1-2).
I began thinking about Joseph stuck in prison in the Bible too. (Genesis 37-40) Talk about sheltering in place! I believe it’s estimated he was there for 10 to 12 years total. And he hadn’t even done anything wrong to end up there. And remember how at one point, he asked the other prisoner that got out to put in a good word for him, and then…. crickets chirping…trees and grass growing…sunrises…sunsets…time elapsing. Two years later and finally the guy says something to Pharaoh and Joseph gets out of jail.
Many of us hadn’t been sheltering at home during this virus 40 minutes when panic and distress set in. And we aren’t really in the desert or jail. Even some Christians acted this way. And oh, the actuality that we can’t attend church like we normally do has put some Christians in such a tizzy. Many want their churches named among the “essential” and some counties and local officials have given a few that “essential” status. But really, why do we want to still operate as normal without regard to a world of people that are susceptible to a deadly virus?
I realise that nobody wants to hear that what they do and what they stand for isn’t “essential”. But don’t take it personally. The world doesn’t understand Christianity because their eyes are blinded. (1 Corinthians 2:14) And we have nothing to worry about. We know the body of Christ can withstand anything. We don’t need buildings. We can handle being apart for a while, because as believers we are joined in spirit.
If we want to be “essential” during this time, let’s just love essentially.
We aren’t asked to give up church services in person because the big arm of the law is persecuting Christians. Sure, I’m not saying that some of the other things deemed “essential” really are, but we as Christians are not being downtrodden for our beliefs right now. We are not fighting persecution. We are not fighting for legal rights to meet and practice religion. Nobody is working to take it away by asking us to comply with ordinances and orders though this. What we are being asked to do is to show some common sense and help protect the health and welfare of other people.
I have heard so many Christians quoting that verse in Hebrews 10:25. about Christians not forsaking the assembling together. Well. Have you really looked at the word “forsaking”? That’s a powerful word when used in the Bible. That isn’t saying “don’t miss” church. That’s saying don’t turn your back on meeting together as believers. That’s saying don’t divorce yourself from meeting with other believers. Just being apart for a while physically doesn’t amount up to forsaking the assembling together of believers.
Please! Christians, for the sake of my sanity, please stop quoting that verse concerning “essential” church services in person. It doesn’t apply here. Nobody is encouraging quitting church or never meeting and worshiping together again. Nobody is encouraging us to make not meeting together a long-term habit. We are just being asked to hold off our church services until the virus subsides. That’s something entirely different. And besides, you can’t quote that verse in Hebrews 10:25 and only follow that in a misguided way and not follow all that teaching of love. All that teaching of doing good. All that teaching of putting the importance on others instead of yourself. And all that teaching of being a servant to others. And even the teaching to obey the law over you. You can’t just choose what parts of the Bible you are going to follow or hold as important.
And besides, Hebrews 10:25 is the continuing thought of the proceeding verse. (Hebrews 10:24) Those two verses are one sentence. You have to read the entire sentence together for it to make any sense. The first part of it (vs. 24) is talking about encouraging others in doing good and love. Provoking other Christians to disregard the law and disregard the welfare of others is not encouraging them to do good and to love. If the second part of that sentence (Hebrews 10:25) is important to you, then the first part of that sentence should be important to you as well. (Hebrews 10:24)
There are some things we may have to stand up for or fight for throughout our lifetimes, but shouldn’t we be fighting for and standing up for the health and welfare of other people at this time in history? I hear Christians all the time that say that they want to make a difference. Well now is your time to step up to the plate. Now is your “for such a time as this” moment. Make a difference by forgetting about yourself. Minister to a world without hope by showing love and kindness for their health and welfare by doing your part by sheltering in place. Isn’t that all a part of that loving and serving others that the Bible teaches us so much about? I think about the verses in Philippians 2:1-8 that talks about putting other people first and learning to be a humble servant like Christ. Over in Mark that same thought about being a servant like Jesus is found again. (Mark 10:45)
I’ve been saying since the beginning of this that the body of Christ is strong. We can handle being away from other people in person for a while. Jesus did it when He was in the form of a man out in the desert for 40 days. Joseph endured prison for around 10 years or more. Look at Noah. He was on an ark with just family and animals. He couldn’t even go outside for 40 days and 40 nights, and there wasn’t internet service and streaming on the ark!
If you think being home with all your family together all at one time for a few weeks so far is tough, you just think about Mrs. Noah for a minute. We are just getting started with slowing this virus down. We may have to learn some patience, but we can take this sheltering in place stuff one day at a time. We have a mighty God at our side that will help us through this.
As I mentioned in other blog posts, the church has endured from way back. The body of Christ is strong and can work together no matter where they are or no matter where they worship from. Right now, it is so important that we work together to show love to this hurting world during this time of virus and uncertainty.
We have to learn that loving others is the essential thing.
The Love of God: An Intimate Look at the Father-Heart of God - Oswald Chambers
Father's Love Letter - Barry Adams
No Greater Love - Ted Griffin, Jim Rak
We've Never Been This Way Before: Trusting God in Unprecedented Times - R.T. Kendall
Surprised by Hope - Tom Wright
God's Little Book of Love - Richard Daly
Hiding from Love - John Townsend
Enjoying God - Tim Chester