How do we respond to the new normal?
The world is beginning to open up again and I’ve noticed how emotions seem to be running high. We are anxious, yet excited for life outside our homes, nervous for what has changed, scared about the impact covid has had, angry at the tensions arising and yet hopeful and thankful the worst seems to be behind us. Did that cover some of it?
News and social media all sing an anthem of what the new normal will look like, the good the bad and the ugly of social distancing, at stores, parks, campsites, churches, and the one that really tears at my heartstrings is how schools will look different. We imagine how we will lead our kids through this new world, and yet we can calmly rest in the joy of assurance that God will lead us well. I've also seen a lot of tension between people, as we each process the rollercoaster that is covid19. Tension and differing opinions grow within families and friendships, and now between strangers. Unsure of where others stand or nervous that they believe differently than us about masks or social distancing, and not wanting to offend others with our choices. Twice I have had someone rudely remind me that I was going the wrong way according to the arrows accidentally in a grocery store. It was so easy to come home and tell Kevin how rude and blunt people were, without fact checking my own ugly heart and dislike for their reactions, when mine was just as bad. There is a multitude of reason for tension to brew, but on the other side, this crisis is a powerful opportunity for us to live out what we believe, to shine Christ like love to those around us; His never ending, tenacious, kind and tender love. Paul sums it up perfectly here in Philippians 2:1-5,14-16
"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus… Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain." I never loved growing up in the country, it was too far from the mall;-) and neighborhoods full of my friends. But what I never took for granted was the sky at night. My mom used to blow up an air mattress and we would lie under a blanket looking up at the stars, with numbers to vast for any human to count. They lit up the dark sky and told a story of a creator who knows each one by name, and who also knows mine. As I lay there, I remembered my role in this world under a sovereign, loving and just God. And here today, for now, Christians do have the voice to shine like stars in a dark world, and with every act of love, to make a future altering impact on every single person we connect with. We need to make every effort to return rudeness with kindness, and help those God puts before us, these acts are needed and are an expression of our love. However, I’m not just talking about acts of kindness, I’m talking about sharing the only love that can heal the cry of all our hearts and the only love that can calm an aching and anxious heart. We need to share the news that changed our life, the gospel - the good news of Jesus, more than we ever, ever have. I need to. You need to. Remember when Jesus said in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” ? When we truly believe that Jesus is, the way, and the truth, and the life, we live and share differently, with boldness. What if we stopped talking and dwelling on our frustrations and started praying about how we can reach our neighbours, family and friends with the life changing, soul saving gospel? What if we responded not in argument but in soft words of kindness and empathy, and were intentional about directing the conversation in a way that made much of God? What if we shared our stories of how God has healed our lives? And what if we share the freedom and great hope that we have in Christ, why fear doesn’t have it’s tight grip on us, or how we have access to peace regardless of our circumstances? We do this not in a prideful way, because our salvation and our freedom was a gift and we boast in Christ alone, but from a place of love. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” Romans 1:16 For the sake of this world and because we love our King so much, can we be kinder in how we interact with the world? Whether that’s in the grocery store or on social media? Can we be bolder and intentional in sharing the hope that we have? Can we infuse our conversations with how God has changed our lives? And can we be on our knees praying that everyday we wake up, God will be glorified in all we do and say? And if we aren’t sure how not to think about this new normal ourselves, may we run to our King and let His sweet transforming word remind us who we are in Him! I want to close with this this verse, as it reminds us that our great Shepherd is our guide and our strength as we navigate whatever changes lay ahead! "Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21