Thu July 15, 2021

By Shelly B Short

Freedom Beyond Quarantine

Daniel Bramlett

As COVID cases continue to rise, we have to remember the lessons we learned over the last year and a half. We must not allow fear and despair to reign in us again. I hope we don’t have to, but if masks again become a reality, we will wear them, sanitize and not touch. But we cannot, we must not, isolate! The benefits of us being together as the Body far outweigh any of the safety we may gain by staying at home.

I felt so defeated when we started hearing news of COVID again. But we must not go there. We must go where we’ve learned to go in the last year and a half. The only One able to handle our fear and worry is the Lord. We find Him first and primarily in His Word. If we don’t pick it up, we condemn ourselves to a dark, dismal fear of the world.

God’s Word is not one more source of information in a world saturated with authoritative sources. It is THE SOURCE that is above all others. If we alienate the Word by giving the majority of our attention and focus to every other source, we will stay confused, fearful and dismayed. The news media does not want you to be a strong, standing army. They want you to be completely dependent on them. Their goal has always been to inform, but in the last couple of decades they’ve had a new goal: to control. They aren’t the enemy and I’m not saying all they do is evil. I am saying if you don’t have both eyes on Jesus, you will consistently find yourself in the ditch.

As Christians, how do we move forward now? We’ve established that we should not use the mainline news outlets as our primary sources of information, but what should we use? The ministry of the Word and prayer must continue to take active, forefront rolls. These must not be things we neglect. I can’t say this enough. We have a standard to keep and it has nothing to do with CDC guidelines, cultural expectations and norms or any kind of peer review and traditions. The only standard we assert is the one found here for the last 2000 years. We preach THE book unapologetically and without hesitation. Anything we can do to put IT in the spotlight, we do. BUT we do not just preach this book. By itself, the Bible is dry and wordy. It can be overwhelming and pushy. But if we PRAY as we preach, then it comes to life! The ministry of prayer and the Word must be paramount in the Body. But that is not all.

At no point do we play down the acts of service required to keep the Body moving forward. Jesus prayed for daily bread and then offered it to the people. This isn’t a sideline ministry that could disappear if it got in the way. This is a Church. We amen and pound the backs of the pews at the suggestion that the ministry of prayer and the Word be paramount, but we have a lack luster response when we say the ministries that meet the basic needs of the people be a fixture as well. This ministry cannot guide us. We are not here primarily to feed people bread, but hungry people need to eat. If they are a part of our Body and we do not feed them, we miss the mark. If they are a part of our Body and are hurting and we do not pray for them, we miss the mark. We are, and always have been, a hospital for the hurting. We cannot neglect this arm of the Church.

Acts of service in the Body, even the organization of the Body to better serve others, are always done for a purpose. We work to respond faithfully in every circumstance so when the end comes we will be found standing. If all we do is preach, if we never back up our words and prayers with action, we will not be found standing. Instead, we will be found sleeping on the day of Jesus’ return. If all we do is serve and not preach, we will not be found standing on the day of Jesus’ return. We will be too busy.  There is strength and purpose found in service. The more we give the more we gain.

The goal of a conversation like this is not to satisfy some grumpy people. The goal isn’t even to meet a need. The goal is always to remain standing. When crisis appears we can either see it as a threat or an opportunity. If our eyes are fixed on the turmoil, the crisis takes control and the Word will always be lowered in priority. But if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Word will remain a priority and we will view every single crisis that comes our way through the washing of the water of the Word.

When COVID appeared, we saw this as a way for the enemy to enter our midst and wreak havoc and so we made the only move we could to remain standing in the face of his attacks: we called the Body to action. A lot like an army mustering the troops, this was required movement. This is why we train. This is why it is imperative for us to listen to the Lord. This isn’t our first encounter with the enemy but is without a doubt potential for him to work. A response like this will close the door on the enemy and allow the Church to continue to be a faithful witness to the world around us.

Think how the Church of the next generation will respond to their own crisis if they learn from us. Let’s train them well.