NEW NORMAL: COMMUNITY
Faith Church is a community. In many cases, we’re practically family. Unified in Christ, we do much more than simply gather - we often “do life” together.
Faith Church also exists within our greater community. We have neighbors. We shop in local stores. We work for local businesses and companies. We eat at local restaurants. We have family and friends throughout the surrounding communities.
Let’s take a minute to explore the intersection of our church community and our surrounding community.
TAKING A WRONG VIEW
In this present time of quarantines and social distancing and mass isolation, of being cut off from community, there is a temptation to withdraw. In “normal” conditions, it’s already difficult enough for the church to withstand being exclusive. Now so more than ever, the church must resist the urge to digress from “in the world, but not of the world” even further to “out of the world.”
That is in stark contrast to what Jesus prayed in John 17:
14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
Notice three things in this section, prayed by Jesus specifically about His disciples, but inherently applicable to all Christ followers, including us:
They (we) are not of the world
Jesus did not ask for His disciples (us) to be taken out of the world
Believers (we) are sent into the world
It is our church community which binds us together in our “sharing of common attitudes, interests, and goals.” We should be “perceived as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which we exist.” But we must not forget that the church is the primary method by which God is saving the world.
A TIME FOR THE EXTRAORDINARY
Let’s view this extraordinary time as exactly that: a time for the extraordinary.
Our greater community, the society in which our local church exists, has been rocked. They are experiencing mass change to their everyday lives. They are bombarded with news stories of desperate times and desperate measures. They are faced with worldly circumstances which seem to offer little to no hope. They are confused and afraid, because their focus is on the here and now, which presents a bleak picture at this very moment. Many of the things in which they’ve placed their hope have been striped away. For some, it can seem as if there is no hope.
We too once lived in those same conditions. So, what is different? What makes the local church, Faith Church of Linden, OUR CHURCH, distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists?
We have hope found in Jesus Christ. We have assurance of a heavenly eternity. We have the joy of salvation. We peace beyond understanding.
Just as Jesus sent His disciples into the world, we are sent into the world to proclaim His message of hope.
And in these times, when hope seems as scarce as toilet paper and hand sanitizer, we have the extraordinary opportunity to be the church God has called us to be.
Everyone needs hope. We have it. Let’s share it.
Let’s be faithful to each other, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, in proclaiming our shared hope in Jesus Christ within our church community. Take every opportunity to encourage each other with the promises of God. Reach out with scriptural words of encouragement. Pray for each other with expectation in light of our shared truths. Be the church family that we are.
Let’s be faithful to our greater community, in proclaiming our personal hope in Jesus Christ. Call your neighbor; ask how you can help and how you can pray. Our church is providing digital resources of truth and hope; share with your friends and family. When you must venture into public, take a moment to encourage someone. Be the light that we’re called to be.
At least for now, this is the New Normal. This is an extraordinary time with extraordinary opportunities. Let’s meet these challenges together with enthusiasm and eagerly look to Him at all times.