Here we are, one week into a completely new world. Phrases like “social distancing” and “flattening the curve,” which had no meaning to us just days ago, are the new normal, at least for now.
For a time last week, I was pleasantly surprised to see a change in tone among our national leaders, as well as in both mainstream media and social media. There seemed to be less division and more cooperation; fewer petty arguments and more productive communication. Yet as I sit here working from my home office watching week two unfold, it seems that change didn’t last long. So I’m appealing to we who call ourselves followers of Christ to heed the words of consecration Jesus prayed for His first followers, and for His Church, as we consider what kind of people we are going to be as the crisis drags forwards.
From Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer of Consecration in John 17:
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 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.” (John 17:15-21)
Jesus prayed that we, as His followers, would be sanctified, or “set apart,” in ways that are clearly different than those most often seen in the wider culture. He prayed we would be grounded in the truth He gives, so that we might present a unified front as ambassadors of His love and salvation sent back out into the very world from which He delivered us.
With a lost and hurting world watching, what an opportunity we have to be who Christ has called us to be: examples of graciousness and wisdom who live in consecrated contrast to the incessant noise and toxicity of our culture. What we are experiencing right now will certainly be among the most remembered moments in history.
So…each day, for the next five days, I will add a new commitment to this post. I hope they will encourage and challenge all of us in our attitudes, speech, and actions.
- Commitment #1: In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, when every hour brings new developments, we commit to remaining grounded in truth. We will do our best not to share any unfounded information, unnecessary division, or unhelpful opinions. Instead, we will purposefully share biblical wisdom, healthy content from only trustworthy sources, and insights from our personal spiritual practices which are demonstrated by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Instead of listening to conspiracy-theories and self-serving partisanship, we will trust the health experts and civic leaders God has appointed to lead us through this time. If we remain grounded in truth as we have committed above, we need not fear being led astray.
- Commitment #2: We commit to an intergenerational unity in the Church, putting aside any differences that may exist between age groups for the good of the whole body and our communities. We will continue to work hard together, with a willingness to embrace the wisdom of those who are older and the innovation of those who are younger. We pray for our younger generations, that God might give them wisdom beyond their years. We pray for our older generations, that God would protect them physically and emotionally during this time. We also pray they will set the example for us by demonstrating godliness, compassion, wisdom, reasonableness, thoughtfulness, and integrity. We will each commit to running our races well and finishing strong, as we count on those behind us to take the baton and continue to run with perseverance.
- Commitment #3: We commit together that fear will not control us. Instead, the love of Christ will rule in our hearts and minds because He is Lord of all. Though it may not be possible to eliminate all anxiety at a time like this, we believe and proclaim: “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). We stand firm in the power of Christ’s cross. Fear will not extinguish the love we have for God within our entire being—heart, soul, mind, strength—and fear will not drown out our love for our neighbors, who we are commanded to love as our own. We know there are some who prey upon the fears of others for their own gain. We will continue to discipline ourselves against fearmongers and we will do our best to protect our neighbors from their deceitfulness as well.
- The words of Jesus just before His prayer of consecration seem especially fitting here: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
- Commitment #4: We will continue to be thankful. We are realizing perhaps more than ever how many blessings God has given to us, and how fragile they are. We also understand that the freedoms and ways of life we enjoy, yet often take for granted, are not guaranteed. This includes our membership and participation in the Body of Christ, for which we are supremely thankful. We are thankful for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, and the supernatural, unfathomable unity we have in the Holy Spirit. Thankfulness reminds us of the unshakeable joy and peace only God can give. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
- Commitment #5: No matter how or when this season ends, we will not return the way things were. We will be more connected to the True Vine, Christ Jesus, who makes us godly. We will be less selfish and more compassionate, empathetic, reasonable, thoughtful, and purposeful. We will reject the impulses to fall back on our old attitudes and habits. We will resist the urge to jump back into the petty, hateful, and depraved behavior of so many in our culture, including on social media. We will join our brothers and sisters in Christ in unity as we embrace this incredible moment for the Church to display the immense love and glory of God. We will rise to this occasion as one Body, led by one Spirit, called to one hope in one Lord, believing in one faith, sharing one baptism in the name of one God and Father of all, who is above all, in all, through all, and all in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)