I wonder if we will ever have a year like 2020 again. I say that with the hope these blogs have a longevity and some person 10 years from now is reading this and saying 'no i cant believe that actually all happened in one year'.
Of course the big headline will most likely be covid lockdown where so many countries banned there citizens from seeing one another. For the church even now as many lockdown restrictions are eased many churches are still banned from meeting and seeing one another. The response to which was to use the technological advances which have allowed church to come into your living room and for you to consume it. Some churches have even used interactive features where your face is one of them being beamed around the church for all others to see. We are making the best of the situation but just like offices which will eventually have there staff back the church will eventually have its body of believers back in the same building. I know lots of companies have said that may stay working from home because its worked okay but there is something added to the work day when you physically can see and interact with co workers. So that is also true for the church because although you can hear the church in your pj's and pray with everyone on zoom its not the same as being in the same room as other believers, as the laying on of hands, as worshipping and building on the faith of others.
being alone has sucked. I say that as a man with a family who has worshipped with them whilst others have preached through me TV. I say that as a preacher who has been alone in a room with just our media worker and a camera to speak to. Church is not a building it is the people. I'm sure you have all heard that many times. What covid lockdown has shown us is that its also not just people, its people interacting with one another just like a body does.
I don't know, maybe we just needed reminding that we are not a group of consumers in the same room consuming our daily digest of religion or going through the motions of what we seem to think are our religious requirements.
For some these days may have felt like a liberation from your Sunday shackles of a religion forced upon you by family or culture. i think these may have escaped the net and most likely wont come back. However that is a good thing. the kingdom of Heaven is accessed through Faith in Jesus Christ. Faith that He and He alone can pay the price for your sin and that He is therefore worthy to be your Lord and life director. It is not accessed through church attendance because you mum makes you.
However, for others these days have been akin to taking your kidney out and putting it in a jar and your the kidney. You miss the body and the body is missing you, I mean its really missing you.
So if your reading this 10 years from now i hope you enjoyed the reminiscence and are no longer taking your brothers and sisters in Christ for granted anymore.
Of course you could now be going through another lockdown or something worse. i am not saying that to be a pessimist or for those of you reading in 2020 to have little to look forward to. I say it because the word of God is clear to us, Jesus is coming back to establish His kingdom. I say a great big hearty hallelujah to that. Even more exciting is that the bible is also clear that the Lord is coming back as a bride groom and bringing the church to live with Himself in His established kingdom. Let us ring out an even louder hallelujah now, i cant wait. However, and this is where the pickle comes, the bride groom comes only at night. Night, a time which Jesus described as one where no man can work. Something we've had a tiny taste of here in the west and something many churches in the east and south experience regularly. Therefore I suggest future readers and generations may experience more seperation and lockdown as the world moves towards night time. That move isnt a slow steady progression for the bible describes it as like a woman in labour pains. As waves which grow steadily more and more intense and closer and closer together. As a world moves from darkness to light faster and faster, deeper and deeper, with each dark spell lasting longer and being worse. yet thats not to be feared because its purpose is to bring forward life and that life is the coming glorious kingdom of heaven.
If that doesn't comfort you then i would suggest you may be disappointed with Heaven which is eternity in a relationship with Christ. As i shared in yesterdays blog, its what the Lord is doing and fighting for.
Any woman who is pregnant and looking forward to receiving the child into her arms but may hope for the labour to be short or for a doctor to get rid of it. As a Christian who has felt the loneliness of the covid lockdown, you may know the baby is worth it but wish for the labour to be removed. Unfortunately friends it wont, and even as the church is raptured from the intensity of the great tribulation Jesus told us tribulations will still happen, we will feel the labour pains. This is proved to us through Noah, whom Genesis 6:8-9 found grace in the Lord's eyes for He alone still put the Lord first.
Friends if you have hated being alone imagine being the only Christian left on the planet, a body of one, left to serve the Lord. As we know one on their own cannot reproduce and even though Noah preached righteousness to the whole world he remained alone in that Faith.
Have you been alone during lockdown or even have you been alone with a family. one were told is the loneliest number there has ever been. Today I want you to know that this is nonsense which is not to be believed. Now you may give me the amen but in your heart say I know that to be true of the word but not true in my life. Why can preachers say the Lord is present, you are never alone, but you feel alone? well the answer is because its what is in the word. For in Christ we read in Mathew 28:19 the Lord promise He will always be with you and He will never forsake you. We may imagine that Noah earned the right to be the one alone thus receiving the Grace of God. Yet Grace means the unmerited favour of God so Noah couldn't have earned it. Favour was bestowed but not just on Noah, it was on the whole world. We know that because Noah preached it to the world. We know the Grace of God has been poured out on the world as it stands today. Yet to receive it we must, well receive it. look again at Genesis 6:8, Noah found Grace and the rest of the world rejected it. He was alone but the Lord was with Him because He sought after Him; He communicated with Him ; He gave thanks and worshipped Him; and he allowed the Lord to direct his steps even when the command was mocked by others for being ridiculous.
In short friends, the Lord was always with Him but Noah didn't feel alone because He interacted with that truth. Noah sought a relationship with the Lord. a relationship which was defined by listening and doing. In such a relationship the darkness of the coming judgment of all mankind could not consume the light of Christ which was real in His faith experience. Friends if we want to be able to cope in the lockdowns to come and the darkness that will envelope the world we live in then i suggest we also need such a relationship with the Lord
If 1 is the loneliest number for you then this has to be a challenge. Jesus made a promise in Mathew 28:19 and the Lord doesn't lie. The daily conversation with God which Paul taught the Colossians to have and which Joshua was told to have were experienced by praying without ceasing and meditating on the word day and night. Now that's not pray all the time, it is to pray about all things in your life. In so doing you will gain the knowledge and faith that the Lord is in all aspects of your life. It is not to read your bible morning and night. It is to digest some of the word and consider it, let it affect your life and change you as you meditate on it through out your day.
A relationship with anyone affects your life. That new person will bring ideas and new ways of doing things which you have to embrace. that relationship brings conversation and communication which requires interaction and action. That soul connects to the person within and becomes a person of importance that you care for the wellbeing of. Why should a relationship with Jesus be different? In fact such a relationship with Jesus would focus you in your challenge to seek first the kingdom and in your ability to not follow those temptations.
Lets pull this all together now and give you some practical advice.
Christ is always there and that is a fact of the word of God. If you still feel alone even though that is a fact then the reason is because your not interacting with the ever present Lord. Friends He hasn't forsaken you, your not seeking Him. Therefore develop a relationship by conversing with the Lord about everything. Read some of the word and allow yourself to digest what it says about Christ letting that word change you. In so doing 1 will never be the loneliest number again. If it is, then ask yourself how long since you talked to Jesus and let Him talk back through His word. Then start again.
As the world gets darker; as time draws where no man may work; as the labour pains of the birth of the kingdom come upon us; if we don't seek this relationship then the grace of God will pass by us because we wont recognise the gift, we will despise it.
Seek a loving two way conversational relationship with Christ, He wants one with you, the word tells me so