Archive for the ‘Church Life’ Category

In the midst of great divides, the treasure of sharing a special connection with others is increasingly precious. It cannot be overstated that much of the suffering people face today is in the feeling of being cut off from others. In many ways, we were already sliding down that slope. In pre-pandemic months and years, isolation fostered by mere illusions of connection offered us by technology were already gripping with an icy hold the hearts of people, freezing their sense of hope and true connection with others.

How is this possible when the means to connect with others has only become increasingly easy? Because with that ease has come the ease of pretending to be something one is not. What we see in our shallow connections with others over social media and video technology are carefully packaged presentations of people who put on display either a semblance of perfection to show how “together” one is or the outlandish deviations people can concoct as they attempt to draw attention to themselves and feel special and unique.

What we are not getting are authentic connections. We are not getting real love and acceptance, but likes and shares that grant us illusions of love and uniqueness. How very lonely then for us since just as surely we only share our pretend selves with others, others only share pretend selves with us. There is no true “knowing” of another in this way.

How precious then is what the child of God has in Christ and shares with other Christians as we let down our masks of whatever we think we must pretend to be. When we courageously admit how weary, broken and hurt we are and, yes, even our guilt as fallen individuals, we experience a moment of truth in which we can confess that while we are each sinners, we share a common forgiveness in Jesus Christ which binds us eternally with one another. “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5 ESV).

Not only that, but we share so much in Him that any “joining together” we experience in the world outside of this special bond pales in comparison. “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6 ESV).

Perhaps this is why the Scripture in Philippians 1:7 resonates with us as the writer speaks of how he feels about other Believes, no matter the miles that separate them. “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace”.

When mostly what we hear about is that which would divide us, I hold to my heart that there is something infinitely wonderful at work, binding my life to my brothers and sisters in Christ: the grace of God in Jesus. The world and its troubles may try to drown out that beautiful truth with the noise of hate, fear, and despair, but as I turn again and again to the Bible, the Word of God, I see that I share with each Child of God something greater than all the temporary treasures and pleasures of the world.

Will I always agree with everything another Christian says or does? No. Will other Christians always “feel” close to me and I to them? Again, no. But these things cannot alter the truth of the special bond that I share with others who have received God’s great gift of forgiveness and eternal life through Christ. This truth is a special truth that Christians must especially hold dear and demonstrate for the world around us now. As people feel increasingly “cut off”, the authentic connection that only Jesus can bring to His people is a life-saving promise those around us need to see, hear, and experience. So let us cherish it, commit to experience it more and more, and let us share it. The time to do so is now.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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If I had to pinpoint any one thing that concerns me the most among those who profess to be Christian, it would be their disconnect with the Word of God.  One could say that the root cause of this is the general illiteracy we have of what the Bible actually says, but if we trace it further, it would be the lack of interest we have in what the Bible says.  We care not, therefore we read not.  We read not, therefore we know not.  And if we know not, we do not.  We can’t do what we don’t know we are to do or how to do it.

Perhaps the reason we do not care for it the way we should is rooted in that we turn away from what we do not want to hear, failing to realize that in turning way from it, we break the connection of what actually gives us life and hope.

As an example of this, people who work with those who struggle with addiction find that the truth that they share with those who are struggling is often rejected.  What they say may be very true, but because the truth is painful, the hearer dismisses it and strives to find others who will say what they want to hear, only to be further entangled in the coils of an addictive lifestyle.

Spiritual truths are like that.  They can pierce our illusions and self-serving notions with painful accuracy, but like a scalpel performing a life-saving surgery, they cut away the destructive lies we believe in order to set us free to live fully as God intends.

It is insane to believe something simply because we like the sound of it or because it is repeatedly shouted at us (literally sometimes as well as through social media outlets).  But lies become no truer because lots of people believe them.

It is essential that we turn from the subjective pronouncements hurtling upon us each day and turn to a truth so objective that it had to be handed down to us by a merciful and holy God!  The Bible is a bottomless wellspring of truth because it is not a book of rules and regulations so much as it is a love letter from a righteous God in heaven commending to us His heart, His purposes, and His ways.

If you want to find your bearing in this tempest of hate mongering and fear surrounding us today and if you want to find peace in your life as you come to grips with what God actually says about who you are and what your life is really all about, you must come to His Word, the Bible.  You must open your heart and ask His help in prayer to have your heart opened even as you open the Bible’s pages.  You must read, hear, and trust His Words.  You must consider them, let them become a part of you, and you must obey them.  You obey them because the One Who speaks them, speaks them in holiness.  The Bible’s words are right and pure.  They are the lifeline that God sends you to know His gift of salvation, forgiveness, hope, and victory.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:16-17 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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In a world full of people who have not cultivated the discipline of listening to others before judging them, Christians have the unique opportunity to model the guiding principles within Christian faith that we call grace and compassion. In a time when it seems that we are increasingly likely to hear of violent reactions of a person or group of people toward another because of the perception that the other is evil or inferior in some way, God’s children have a special calling to do more than just react.

Human wisdom and conventional, worldly logic tell us that it is time to fight, to take, to oppose and to exact revenge. Fear, hate, and violence are heaped upon fear, hate, and violence. Yet God interrupts us today with a different outlook and a different path.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matthew 5:38-41 ESV).

This is addressing our tendency to react. This is not addressing the call to bring what is wrong in our society into alignment with God’s Kingdom. We MUST oppose racism. We MUST oppose the wrongful oppression of others. We MUST oppose the taking of the lives of innocents.

But, as God’s people, we also must NOT allow the evil of others to be the agents of our thinking, saying, and doing of evil things. The Lord Jesus was addressing the evil in us as we take into our own hands the parceling out of judgment on others who have in our minds offended us. And He reminds us that He does not treat us that way. Instead, He patiently works to bridge the divide that exists between us and Him because of our sin and graciously bring us out of sin’s bondage into a genuine relationship with Himself even though we do not deserve it.

One test for whether or not our reaction to the harm that others have caused us is in whether or not that reaction is ultimately redemptive. Will my response help us to overcome what divides us or will it only drive us farther apart? To those who are tempted to say, “We must get others back for what they have done,” they clearly do not understand – or trust – that God is on His throne and will ultimately call every single deed, every thought and every word, into account. How very sobering because every one of us ultimately must stand before Him (see 1 Peter 4:5).

But what grace and mercy He has shown us in that while we all fall short, we may experience His forgiveness and, as we do so, we may extend that same mercy and forgiveness to others. This is what God’s grace does as it grabs hold of us and sets us free. As Christians today, the platform has been given to us to now show what real grace and real love look like. After all, we have the best picture of all in the sacrifice that Jesus did on the cross when He gave His life for sinners like you and me.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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One of the most amazing aspects of what it means to become a Child of God through faith in Jesus Christ is the fact that we are not merely changed, but that we are “born again” (John 3:3). This is to say that what change has happened in us spiritually is so radical and revolutionary to what we are that we cease to be what we once were and are now, in our essence, a completely new thing.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17 and 18, we are taught by God that “If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God Who Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

The application of this today is two-fold. First, we must understand that what we once were, we no longer are. No longer are we just breakers of God’s Law, we are forgiven. No longer are we merely sinners, but are regarded by God as saints. No longer are we spiritually dead, unresponsive to the grace and majesty of God, but we have been brought to life. No longer are we enemies to Jesus, but are now counted as His brethren. There has been an inward change in us, that I must point out must be accepted by faith as having taken place (since our emotions don’t always keep up with what God has revealed to us through His Word).

Secondly, because we have been so radically changed, we look at others differently. We now, by God’s truth working its effect in our hearts’ attitudes and agendas, see others as God sees them (or at least we desire to and commit ourselves to His opening our minds to them).

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer” (2 Corinthians 5:16 ESV).

We see other people as the bearer of God’s image. We look at them and realize, no matter how different they may seem to us on the outside, no matter what their past has been, mistakes they have made, or perhaps how they have harmed us, they have the potential, as God ordains it, to be as radically transformed as we are if we truly have been saved by Christ.

In others words, we stop looking at others through the human lenses of our limited perspectives, and look at others through the lens of God’s truth and love which does not change or serve our selfish agendas.

In a time of great division and misunderstanding, we need the unity that only Jesus’ love and transformation can bring. And for it to enter our little corner of the world, we must be willing to let that love and truth grab hold of us and flow through us into our actions, words, and attitudes. To do anything else is to fall short in being transformed inside and out. And without individual people being transformed, our homes, community, and world cannot be transformed. So let the love of Jesus do its work today in making you new.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Once more has a senseless loss crashed down upon us the torrential reality of fear, mistrust, and disharmony in our country. The words, “I can’t breathe”, have become a catchphrase to symbolically express the weight of oppression and its relentless effect of suffocating a people, men and women who are created in the image of God and, through Christ, are my brothers and sisters.

The tragedy of George Floyd’s death, the affliction of hatred, and the anguish of racism have yet again moved the people of our nation to rallying points that can either help us move forward to paths of healing and hope, or can be the building blocks of relational catastrophe. Inasmuch as this allows people’s minds and hearts to change toward one another in that people are regarded as equals no matter their skin color or ethnicity, then maybe Mr. Floyd’s death will not be in vain, although his family and friends will not easily be comforted.

I fear that what healing has occurred in the past is in danger, but it is imperative that vestiges of inhumanity toward one another be unveiled and dealt with. Justice is essential here. And God is a god of justice Who does not close His eyes to sin and evil in our society or in our hearts.

I pray for healing – not Band-Aids. I hope for reconciliation – not platitudes. I look to my brothers and sisters in Christ in love and hold my arms out to them with my mind drawn to the Bible’s explanation of the nature of the oneship I share with them in Jesus that is founded on something holy and perfect: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body… all were made to drink one Spirit…. If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Corinthians 12:13a, 13c, 26 ESV).

It is not evil to stand for justice. Quite the opposite actually. It is not wrong to cry out for correction of what is wrong. It is essential that we do so. But let us be careful to not catch the viral infection of hate. Social distancing in this regard is perhaps more important than with Covid-19. And if we find that we have caught the bug of hate, bitterness, or fear, let us seek the healing that only God’s Spirit can bring and allow Him to cleanse our hearts and souls with the waters of His Word.

The Bible moves from the remarks referenced above regarding our unity as the body of Christ (in 1 Corinthians chapter 12) to the “still more excellent way” of love in chapter 13. Here is the healing we need even as we stand for justice.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, 13 ESV).

As a Christian, it is not an option to love others… even those “different” from me. It is who I am. If you are a Christian, then it is not an option for you either. It is the outflow of the presence of the Savior you say you follow. So tend well your heart, your attitude, your words and deeds. Let them flow from a heart filled with the love of God.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Words matter.  What you say matters.  Not only that.  How you say what you say matters.  To further complicate things, when you say what you say matters.  Oh, I am not advocating for a script per se in how we speak to one another.  But it is clear that Christians could do a whole lot better in the speaking department.  And, to be clear, this applies to things we post on social media as well.

Maybe we don’t see the two as the same thing.  Perhaps we feel that posting things in the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter multi-verse is different from saying something to someone’s face.  We feel insulated by our screens and lose a sense of responsibility for what we’re posting due to the lack of contact and the sense immediate accountability that it gives us relationally.  We lose sight of the fact that people to whom we “speak” and people about whom we “speak” (post on social media) are real-life people on whom the image of God has been stamped.

We’re discourteous, rude, short-tempered, accusatory, and so on.  We gossip and distort the things others have said or done.  We’re out-and-out accusing, implying and inferring things so that others pick up the torch of our suggestive comments and are caught up in the verbal lynching of others.

As God’s children, we can do better.  In fact, we must do better.  We, of all people, should be leading the way with a holy conduct that truly portrays the God of grace and mercy Whose Son died for us. LightInDarkness

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29- 32 ESV).

The times are tense.  They are difficult.  People are anxious and fearful.  Don’t give in to the temptation to react with the caustic tools of the world, but to respond with the comforting presence of our Creator.  Maybe the reason we struggle with this is that we’re not personally experiencing that comforting presence.

If that is the case, then let us turn our eyes once again to our God.  Let us once again be washed in the cleansing flow of His holy Word.  Let us again find our anchor in His promises of provision, protection, and presence.  The world needs the light of Jesus.  So let His light shine… through you… and let it shine now.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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In all the whirlwind of change taking place today, and the “out-of-control” feelings that it is creating for us collectively, it is very important that we remember who is at the helm of the ship. There is a lot of talk about our crisis being artificially orchestrated and certain persons being intentional about having created the crisis with which we are now faced. Whether or not this is true is beyond me and beyond most of us – especially given the huge torrents of divisive accusations, reports and opinions unleashed upon us.

Do I believe that there is a conspiracy afoot? Of course, I do. Even if there are world leaders who plan to exploit us (or not), I know that Satan has conspired against us from humanity’s first days in the garden. He conspires even now to distract, disorient, delude, and divide the people of God. Mostly, he conspires to destroy our knowledge of God: a knowledge that is an intimate and personal experience of God’s glory, grace, love and power. That knowledge is so precious to God that He fine tunes the details of events, activities, trends, governments to accomplish His perfect plan of grace of which you and I are the recipients.

So as I see all the events happening in the world today and hear (or read) the various things being said, I recall what God told an arrogant world leader named Sennacherib in Isaiah 37:26, “Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass”.

As I read this (especially in its context), I realize that no event taking place today has caught God off guard. He is in charge and, because He is a God of great power and love, is working all things still today in accordance with His plan of redemption and restoration with people like you and me – sinners forgiven because of the blood of Jesus Christ.

That means that world events over which I have no power, as well as personal situations that have unexpectedly come into my life, were “planned from days of old and are now being brought to pass.” That helps me because I know that the God of love has method to the madness I think I’m facing. It helps me because I know that there is a destination – a good place – to which God is bringing me and this is the path by which I will arrive – by which all His people will arrive as they trust Him as Savior and Lord.

God is working! And God is loving! He is working in your life! He is loving you even now and invites you to trust Him!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Busyness, when taken away, creates a vacuum.  Our stay-at-home situation has disrupted many people’s daily routines, causing their over encumbered schedules to seemingly bottom out. This has left people stranded on the desert islands of their homes as they toss out their social media bottles with messages in ongoing attempts to stay connected with the outside world.

Vacuums will be filled… with something.  As we may not know how to spend all the time we suddenly find at our disposal, boredom sets in and fear seeps in… like a slow poison to the soul.  I personally think that these two facts have much to do with how we have lost our way with those things that matter most to us and the work it takes to nurture those things.

For example, we speak more often than we think.  I probably don’t need to try to prove that to anyone since our social media accounts are saturated with explosive demonstrations of ignorance.  Time suddenly at our disposal can be used to allow us to begin the process of thinking once again.  That is to say, that we learn to listen carefully and consider what we hear (or read) with an analytic mind, scrutinizing what comes our way as opposed to simply accepting things thrown at us from all sides of the aisle according to whatever fits our already cemented beliefs.

We have now the opportunity to step back from things and weigh them carefully looking for real evidence as opposed to the polished, shiny apples lobbed at us by those who want us on “their side”.  Those shiny apples look and taste good in the sense that they align with our political, emotional, and spiritual taste buds, but they are as surely poisonous as the one that brought low Snow White.

Another area where we could regain something lost to us is the area of our own prayer lives.  Prayer is not for the weak, because it is work to develop an attitude and habit of taking the time to pray.  Yet prayer is for the weak, because it anchors us to the only true power that is… the power of the love and majesty of God which is not subject to our world’s churning circumstances.  Are you finding a lot of down time right now?  Why not invest it in the one thing that lifts you up out of the dreary pace of what you can only see with physical eyes?  Why not connect with the Creator of the universe?  After all, it is a tremendous gift given you as a result of His death on the cross!  Not only that, but His resurrection underscores the validity of doing it:  victory in prayer because of His victory over death!

Yet another area where you could become reestablished with power that transforms the ordinary moment into a Kingdom of God experience is reading the Bible, the Word of God!  Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, is an overflow of excitement as the writer just can’t stop gushing about how God’s Words meet every need for the Child of God in every moment!

And finally, there are the “little things” that we can do to change the kind of day others are having.  Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Let’s be honest.  How much of what we had planned before the COVID-19 shutdown was doing what we wanted to do for ourselves?  Our vacations?  Our shopping trips?  Our daily indulgences in whatever pleases us most?

Happily, I know that not everything falls into that category, but much of what we lost probably had to do with what we wanted for ourselves.  Well, here we have time now to make a difference in other people’s lives.  Stripped away are the excuses of how we are too busy to do those things.  Why not call someone who is lonely?  Why not drop a card in the mail?  With sterilized hands, of course.  Why not Facetime someone who is feeling lost, alone, or forgotten?   You’ve got the time.  Now take the time to use it well.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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You may feel powerless right now in the face of the pandemic and impact that it has had socially and economically upon you and our society. You may feel weak. You may feel scared. You may doubt that in the face of trying to stay away from others (at home or however you must do it) that you have anything to offer others let alone manage to get through this without losing your mind (or duct-taping the kids to the wall; please, don’t do that, by the way). The awareness of weakness is not something we enjoy intrinsically. But there is some tremendous value in it and there is reason to give thanks for it.

For one thing, our smallness is rarely clear to us until we come up against something bigger. For some, it is happening right now for the first time in the face of COVID-19 pandemic. Not only is it bigger than any one of us, but it has reared its imposing head over nations and their leaders and is proving to be unpredictable upon whom it inflicts its wrath and those it doesn’t. Only now are some realizing that they do not have all the answers and their stature is tiny in the shadow of a worldwide epidemic.

For another thing, our selfishness is seldom revealed until we find ourselves threatened. We could, on the one hand, fearfully look out only for ourselves, hoarding and hating anyone who competes for the resources we reach for. Fight or flight are instincts that we may be powerless to stop from taking us over as our adrenaline pumps throughout our bodies and we live as if we are at war with the world.

Additionally, our weakness is not typically apparent to us unless we are attempting something that we simply cannot do. In the case of the Corona virus, we thought we could stop it, some thought they could survive it, some thought they could cure it. While it is to be hoped that by God’s mercy a cure may yet be found, this sickness has surged throughout the world infecting and killing many.

But these same conclusions could happen to any of us individually at any time anyway. It does not take the virus to reveal our smallness, selfishness, or weakness. Those things were only invisible to us because of our complacency and our inclination to simply not think about it. It could be cancer that reveals these things. It could be losing a job. Or a spouse. Or a child. It could be failure to have lived the life we had dreamed of living.

In any of these crises (worldwide or personal), there comes a moment of reckoning when we have to deal with the fact that being merely human is sometimes a hard thing to be. But it is only as defeating to us if we only look so far. If we look beyond the bigness of life, of problems, of failure, and look to the God of creation Who is steering the events of history in accordance to a master plan and that He has our welfare in mind, we realize that the bigness of our problems are infinitesimally small in comparison to the God Who reigns.

The staggering implications of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25-33 is that the strength and commitment of God in taking care of you is unimaginably beyond your ability to take care of you.

Furthermore, Jesus says in Luke 12:6-7, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” If God is taking care of little things, God will take care of you.

Our weakness is a blessing in this respect: it paves the way for us to seek God. Of course, it does not guarantee that we will seek Him necessarily for His own sake. We might content with being satisfied with merely hoping that He’ll help us in our problems, overcome our obstacles, provide for our lack, or protect us from what scares us. But what He desires to do instead and uses weakness to prepare our hearts for is that we look to Him, perceive His great love and power, and come to love Him in return. There may be times when He does not save you from your problem, but would still use it to teach you to trust Him and to lean upon Him, learning His strength and compassion.

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV).

It is not likely that we are going to quickly be contented with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities, but when we remember how such limitations can teach us to turn our heavenly Father, suddenly they lose their strength in our lives. Are you troubled? Turn to God; He is Lord. Are you anxious? Trust in Him: He is working. Are you weak? Yes, you are, but He is strong.

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Nothing shows us what is really important in life as does an imminent tragedy.  Nor is there anything that show us what is really true about ourselves as does a crisis.  These things have a knack for stripping away the layers of lazy assumptions and pretensions we like to live by because they are comfortable, ego-inflating, and don’t require growth and adjustment on our parts.

Whatever I might fear about the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and assume about human nature’s response to it, the bottom line is that much of what is going on right now is out of my control.  And because these things are outside of the realm of my ability to control them, I, like you, must wrestle with how to respond.  Yes, I can wash my hands (and will); I can keep social distance (and will); and I can take my vitamins (and will, at least while I have them).  But that is pretty much as far as it goes.  I can’t control the spread of the virus worldwide, the volatility of the stock market, the bulk-buying panic of others, and can’t even guarantee that I won’t get the virus.  There is a lot more out of my control than there is in it.

Because of this, human nature, on the one hand, tends to draw me to self-protective and reactionary responses to the circumstances around me.  I can stockpile, compete for what seems like disappearing resources, live in fear of others, and act aggressively to either protect my family or to go beyond and exploit others if given the chance (as is found in price-gouging, etc.).  I can live fearfully and through my fearfulness encourage a similar response from others who feel threatened by me and the lengths I would go to take care of myself.

Similarly, I might be inclined to be angry about the reactions of others, loudly criticizing those who are making decisions that I feel are infringing upon my comforts and ease.  I might be in a state of denial and be willing to run the risk of putting others in danger because I am fixated in my pride on the wrongness that I perceive in others.  If this is the case and I am given the opportunity, I would do nothing.

Or I might be tempted to place my faith in people and then assume that they have all the answers.  In a best case scenario, our leaders do not have all the answers and are unsure how to move forward.  The fact is that they are human also and cannot perfectly make the choices that in hindsight they (or we) might have wished that they had.  Human limitations affect leaders because they are human, too.

The challenge then for you and me is to recognize that which transcends human limitation and to come under its protection and provision.  The Bible honestly deals with human frailty and points us beyond people who cannot live up to all our needs and expectations, directing us to the “wisdom of God” which is personified in Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 1:27-31).

This is the essence of what gives such power to mobilize the children of God to positive and life-saving action:  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV).

If you read that passage carefully, you will see that it allows for the fact that you and I will have afflictions which produce in our hearts the potential of anxiety, sorrow, bitterness, and anger, but if recognized as something allowed by God for our good and illuminated by the hope that we have in our resurrected Savior, can instead instill in us compassion that causes us to rise up out of feeling sorry for ourselves to the need of others who have not yet understood or embraced the hope that you and I have in Jesus.

Is this a time to panic?  Nope.  Is this a time to bar the doors of our homes (and hearts) against others?  Again, no.  Is it a time to be in a mode of denial that foolishly sets us up for the pain of unnecessary consequences?  Absolutely not.  Instead, it is a time for us together as God’s children to allow the light of His love to shine in and through us in real and practical ways.

Loving others is not about a sentiment or positive vibes, but about active and intentional praying for and serving others.  The crisis around you is the stage on which the love of God can be demonstrated for those about you to see.  Be encouraged that God has made promises to you that He fully intends and is fully able to keep.  But you have your part, too.  It is to trust Him enough to climb out of the small box of selfishness that you are tempted to stay in and to love others as Jesus has loved you.  “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV).

Copyright ©  Thom Mollohan

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