As I sit down to write tonight, it is very difficult to know what to say or how to say it. Our world has changed dramatically right before our eyes over the last two weeks. By the time you read these words, I have no idea what it will look like. Hopefully better but maybe worse.
I would like to offer encouragement, and indeed there are some very encouraging things going on amongst the chaos:
–It is incredible to me how churches across America have responded and are finding ways to continue their God-given missions of proclaiming Jesus in both good and bad times.
–I am very appreciative and encouraged by the way corporate America has stepped up and willingly made major sacrifices for the greater good.
–I am overwhelmed at the devoted healthcare professionals who are putting themselves at risk daily for the rest of us.
–I am enjoying the posts showing families coming together in creative ways to get each other through some long, difficult days.
The list goes on and on. Example after example of actions and attitudes that give us plenty of hope that we will come out of this crisis in better shape relationally than when we started. I really do believe that we will be able to look back on this time as being a positive turning point in many ways even though it is difficult to see that now.
OK, so now you know what has encouraged me.
Do you want to know what has discouraged me?
The most discouraged that I have been through this entire episode so far was seeing the attitude modeled by a spring breaker who was interviewed by one of the news networks. Unfortunately, it is an attitude that others share.
It was the attitude that it was his life and he was going to do as he pleased with it. He was going to party with the crowd as he wanted regardless of the consequences. He exhibited no comprehension of, or concern for, the unnecessary danger that his actions might be inflicting on others. Regardless of all the guidance that has been issued about the need for social distancing to protect our communities, he was unwilling to alter his desires for the good of anyone else. Nothing was more important to him than him!
Perhaps Jesus would have said “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do”. I confess to you that is not remotely what I said!
So, in this time of upheaval and uncertainty, what else would Jesus say? What instructions would he have for us during these times? I think they would pretty much be the same instructions that Jesus has always given us:
1. Love God
2. Love others
Is that it?
Yep, I think so. Jesus has always been able to condense his instructions down to those two simple concepts. If we can base our words, attitudes, and actions on these two imperatives, then we have met the requirements of all the small print.
If we would just pause and assess every decision that we make or action that we take during this crisis period based on those guidelines, what might look different?
—Well, this young man and his companions would have a totally different attitude about the importance of their partying on the beach. They would consider what the experts have told us about the importance of social distancing during this period for the greater good instead of just being focused on their own desires
—-Perhaps the unnecessary panic buying and hoarding that has caused problems for so many would cease. Instead of hoarding enough toilet paper for a small army, maybe we would just take what we really need and leave some for others. Maybe we would think of others as we shop instead of only thinking about ourselves.
—Instead of getting bored in quarantine, maybe we would use some of this time to check in on others by phone or text. I don’t know of anyone that couldn’t use some encouragement right now.
—Maybe we could invite someone that is uncomfortable with church to join us online for church. It might be an encouragement for them now and have a profound and lasting positive impact on their life
This time of struggle is a period like we have never gone through in our lifetimes. It is hard to know what is required of us in times like these. While it is very difficult and can be discouraging, this period offers us unique opportunities to love God and love others. It would be a shame if we missed either.
So, the big question in everything we do must be:
What does love require of us in times like these?
What does it require of us today?