I’m confident that “2020” will eventually start being used as a verb in the language of our cultural milieu much like “Photoshop,” “Uber,” and “Zoom.” But in years to come, although our progeny will come to understand the negativity associated with that word, how could they every truly identify with what we’ve been through this year?
And, unfortunately, the hits keep coming.
So, how as Christians do we develop not only a proper understanding regarding the current events we’re all desperate to move past, but a viable action plan to thrive as these events come to a close?
The answer is we need perspective.
First things first, as Christians, we should find some comfort in the fact that this world is not our own. We are citizens of a different Kingdom, where God’s will for his children is perfectly enacted and brought to fruition.
Having received Jesus’ final revelation, his closest disciple John, left Christ-followers with these parting words:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” –Revelation 21:4
While it’s okay in some ways to embrace the relief of disassociating ourselves from this place, we cannot simultaneously ignore the extremely important role of the Church in our world today.
That role (and its inherent responsibilities) is understood in three unique, yet concurrently true facets.
1.) The Role of the Individual Believer
As persons who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, we all have received a personal mandate to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20). Paul expands on this assignment in his admonition to the church at Corinth to embrace their role as “ambassadors of Christ,” sent to implore people, as if God were appealing directly to others through us, to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Ask yourself this question; “How often in your conversation with unbelievers, do you implore (beg, pray, plead, beseech, urge) them to be reconciled to God through Christ Jesus?”
Interestingly, in the Amplified translation of this verse, this admonition by Paul could also be construed as being for those who were already Christians, but had not yet laid a hold of the divine favor that was being offered to them by God through Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20, AMPC).
In this case, how often do you in your conversations with those who identify as believers, implore (beg, pray, plead, beseech, urge) them to be fully unified and reconciled to God by receiving his divine favor?
And what does receiving his divine favor even mean? (Check out this video I did on what it means to have favor on your life).
In either case, Paul’s life and ministry, (along with the other apostles), clearly demonstrated that each believer was endowed with a mission from God to preach Jesus Christ and him crucified, which brought salvation for the hereafter, and divine favor in the here and now.
Regardless of the conditions of the world today, as Christians we must still engage in this divine call.
2.) The Role of the “Ecclesia”
In the early church, those who chose to receive the sacrifice of Christ became part of a unique fraternity of Christ-followers who “congregated,” or “assembled,” together, because they recognized they had been “called out,” of the present culture of the world.
Among other things, this assembling together was intended to help people observe Christ’s teachings (Matthew 28:20), to be equipped to serve others (Ephesians 4:12), to pray for and heal one another (James 5:16), and to otherwise encourage unity among believers in the way Christ had union with God, and shared this oneness with this disciples (John 17:21).
The importance of this assembling together cannot be overstated, as it was considered by the early church to not only be essential to “spur[ring] one another on toward love and good deeds,” but that it would be a critical element needed to stay encouraged the more they saw the “Day” approaching.
I question how effectively we as a church, can accomplish the mandate of “assembling” together, via a Zoom meeting, a social media post, or a YouTube video?
Additionally, in order to bring clarity to what we should be doing now as the church, I believe we should ask ourselves, “Were there any conflicts, or challenges in the history of the world, that threatened Christians from meeting together regularly as the church?”
Of course we know the answer to this is “Yes,” which begs the question, “What did believers do when these trials came?”
The answer: They met anyway.
In fact, all over the world, where Christians are persecuted, churches are locked down, or Christianity is otherwise outlawed by current earthly, man-made systems, the church still meets!
Sadly, what we see today happening among formerly regular church-going people, was largely criticized by early church fathers as demonstrative of those who were not serious about identifying with Christ.
In fact, in light of Jesus’s unwarranted death sentence at the hands of ignorant men, becoming a disciple of Jesus meant enthusiastically desiring the same outcome Jesus received in this world, so as to gain a better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35).
We must not only learn from the historical church in this way, but also remember, that there are currently brothers and sisters throughout the globe, who prefer to assemble for the sake of Christ, than to succumb to any threat of sickness, disease, persecution or even death.
3.) The Role of Body of Christ
Finally, as members of the global body of Christ, we bear the unique and collective authority to participate in ushering in the second coming of Jesus our Messiah.
Although none of us knows the time or day God has appointed for Christ’s return, we cannot overlook the role we play in inaugurating this ultimate transition of power.
Recall that Jesus gave us the mandate to “go and preach” the gospel, and consequently tied that very activity to the expiration and conclusion of an era.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
Additionally, in a very interesting passage (which in actuality was about Christ’s return), Jesus told a story of a widow who appeared before a judge, pleading for him to “grant [her] justice against [her] adversary” (Luke 18:3).
The bible reveals that Jesus told them this parable to encourage them to always keep praying, and to never give up. But what Jesus revealed, is that this story was not a parable about the importance of adjudicating cases justly for poor, innocent people.
Instead, Jesus was speaking of a true justice which would come on the earth when he finally reappears. He concluded this parable with an encouragement to the disciples, therefore, that God “would not keep putting off” those who cry out to him day and night for this justice. Rather, he would send it quickly (vs. 7-8).
What is the true justice that can only take place upon Christ’s return? It’s when believers are finally vindicated by Jesus from their true, spiritual adversary, the devil, this “accuser” of the brothers and sister, and he, along with death itself, would be ultimately defeated.
So let me ask you this.
Are you tired of God’s ways being mocked and ignored by wicked people?
Do you wish for Christians and their values to be widely accepted in your workplaces, your schools, your communities and our nation?
Are you eager to see love of Jesus upheld in the courts, manifested in the government, and uplifted as the hallmark of our relationships with one another in society?
Then, more than ever, as the global body of Christ, we should pray without ceasing for Christ’s return.
As a church we can pine away for the days of old, stick our heads in the sand to pretend that nothing is really happening, give up on living a flourishing life because we’re just waiting to die and go to be with Jesus, OR we can truly take up our cross, follow Jesus, and be the Church (and disciples) he called us to be.