For the past month or so, most of us who are not “essential” workers have gotten to know our houses very well. Every phase of our lives is being done differently right now. That includes our spiritual lives.
What have you learned about your spiritual life from being in quarantine?
In James’ letter, the author leaps right out of the gate by making this statement “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Trials, like the one we are presently going through, are used by God to forge and refine our faith. Because of that, we are to find joy in trials.
Here are three observations I have made as I’ve looked at the way followers of Jesus have responded to quarantine.
1. The government is not God.
A lot of us have looked to the government and its leaders to provide answers, a plan, and support. But we see, regardless of political affiliation, definitive answers are in short supply. Information, untainted by agenda, is hard to come by. The government is not all-knowing, nor is it all-powerful.
God supplied his people manna every day. The government is sending $1200. An unprecedented amount of money was spent in a relief bill, but it will not meet the monthly need of most households. The government does not have unlimited resources.
A big part of our developing perseverance is being sure we have faith in the right thing. God wants to be the focus of our faith. Also in the first chapter of James, we are instructed not to be double-minded in our faith. In that situation, we are susceptible to being tossed about.
For many followers of Jesus, there is the realization that the focus of their faith is divided.
2. Church is not a building or an organization.
Meeting with others virtually has stripped away some of our connotations of church. We talk about going to church meaning the building of which we are so proud. Or we invite people to come to church, meaning the structure.
Yet, when those things are abandoned because we are at home, we are reminded that church is the people devoted to Jesus. Just by being in Christ, you are part of the church. Whenever you Zoom with someone and talk about the Bible or pray you are part of the church. As you give yourself away and serve your neighbors (6 feet apart though!) or feed the hungry or buy them toilet paper, you are the church.
For many followers of Jesus, there is the realization that the evidence of their faith has to do more with a building or label than by their fruit.
3. Hope is not found in security or comfort.
This virus that spreads so quickly and silently has attacked our sense of security. Most of us in the United States do not daily think about survival, we take it for granted that we will be around for tomorrow. Rather than dependence upon God, we have put our reliance on health care systems and market economics.
There is a danger to living in this world to which we have become insulated. When security and comfort are taken away, what is left is fear and anxiety.
For many followers of Jesus, there is the realization that they are clinging to this life for hope rather than what God has done for them through Jesus.
I pray that this virus will leave us, but I pray more that our faith will be refined as we let “perseverance finish its work.”
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