What questions have you been asking in this crisis? I have so many questions right now, did our government handle lockdown in the best way? When will the schools reopen? Will I get sick and be ok? Will my kids get sick and be ok? Do I have job security? What happens to the economy after the crisis? There are lots of questions right now both within and outside of the church. A quick search on Google trends shows some fascinating reports at the moment. You’ll see the spike below for the three words; Jesus, prayer and Bible. Some of this can be explained as its all around Easter time. Some of it can be explained because we’re all now online. Either way lets be encouraged. It was reported in Christianity Today that Easter day was the Bible app’s biggest day ever.
Yet we as a nation are grieving and mourning for what has happened in our world and to those we love. The Guardian reported on a special report of the lives that have been cut short. It was harrowing to read about Aimee O’Rourke a 38 year old, with three girls. It could have been me. I’ve been thinking a lot about death recently. Its sobering to hear of deaths rising around the world, its sobering to hear of pop-up mortuaries just a cycle ride from your house. I started to look at google trends for the word death and the results were striking. The graph is a look at the word death across the world over the last five years.
Death feels like it is all around us like never before. Death is trending on google searches. My own most harrowing experience of death in COVID19 is in seeing a young, close friend die last week. I knew she was dying, she had a terminal illness, but death in COVID19 was worse than I could have imagined.
Today we’re sad, but we’re grieving with hope. My friend, like the thief on the cross said “remember me” just three days before she died. She found peace before she died.
We need to remember that death is not the end of the story. We have a powerful message to bring to our friends. As friends of Jesus we can have peace in the face of death. The reason for this peace, is that we believe in resurrected bodies. The empty tomb on Easter day points to a resurrected Jesus. And he is the firstfruit amongst many. His physical, resurrected body gives us hope that death is not the end. As a Christian I believe that when we die, its described as going to sleep. That one day we will be raised with Jesus once again. We’ll live with God for ever in a new earth. We’ll live in a real place with no more pain, no more crying and no more suffering. The message of the empty tomb is this. This is not the way it should be. This is not the way it will be. Because God is love and love will win. This love would follow you where ever you go.
As I think about the coming months, its easy to be overwhelmed. We’re caring for lonely friends, those on the edge of death and confused children. However, today I’m reminded of these verses from John 17. Jesus is with us and is praying for our friends as we seek to not only share the gospel with them but our lives too.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
Jesus is praying for our friends. Jesus is praying for us. We’re not alone in this. Evangelism is still about passing on a verbal message. As the message is spoken Jesus is praying for those who will believe. Jesus is calling us to be united as brothers and sisters in Christ. Our unity in and of itself points to God. As we’re united and our friends see God, they see a relational community; Father, Son and Spirit. Then, the world will know that God the Father loves them. This love is the same love that he has for his Son. A love that was there from the beginning of time. That’s how much you’re loved today. So lets go in peace as loved children of God. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.
Community in a Crisis has been set up to help churches get online in during COVID19. We’re passionate about relational church in a crisis. Register here https://bit.ly/2VR7S9U for our training materials, recordings and events. We have training on;
Offering hope in a Crisis – Evangelism in the local church Multi-Platform worship training for worship leaders
Getting your church online through Zoom.