From day to day we don’t know what to expect. Officials tell us to do this. The next day they tell us to do that, thus fragmenting the nation. Other countries have found success with tried and true methods, and yet many of us don’t seem to understand the science, selflessness, and simplicity of wearing a mask. As a result, our nation’s number of cases has climbed to one-third of all the cases of COVID19 in the entire world.
Half a year ago, the idea that any of these things would be our daily concern would have been ludicrous and unimaginable, not even on the radar.
However, through these events, God is calling us to a steady stream of adaptation and change. We’re living through a season that will impact all of our tomorrows. Life as we know it has been turned upside down. God is rearranging everything and drawing us into deeper intimacy with him.God is calling us to a steady stream of adaptation and change. Life as we know it has been turned upside down. God is rearranging everything and drawing us into deeper intimacy with him. Click To Tweet
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:7-9 NIV).
Consider Paul and the apostles and the lives they lived, constantly traveling through dangerous regions, moving from one tribe or culture to another. There was no daily norm. They traversed on foot, staying in the homes of others, suffering persecution as they went, often ending up in prison. All of this was done out of the love for Jesus, seeking to take his message of salvation to everyone they could reach. They modeled for us a healthy dose of change fully embraced because of their love for Christ.
Since God is orchestrating this, will we likewise seize this opportunity for change, for growth, for transformation, and for putting others first?
In a letter written from prison, Paul writes how to live a life of constant upheaval, a life of continual adaptation, a life where people in close quarters rub shoulders, have conflicts, and learn selflessness.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12-14 NIV).
This is how relationships are to function when Christ rules in our lives and we are living for him. We open our eyes, roll out of bed, and put on these qualities, as if putting on our clothing. We wear compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, no matter our inner turmoil. We don’t allow our emotions to destroy our gentleness toward others. We forgive, forgive, and forgive again, an essential in close quarters.
The phrase “clothe yourselves with compassion” in the original language means to be clothed with bowels of compassion, to feel love for the other in our guts, to be compelled by pity for the suffering of others, to be motivated by mercy and kindness. That is what we are to put on, to wear, to wrap ourselves in from the moment our eyes open and our feet hit the floor daily.
Gentleness and patience are not hallmarks of American society. We don’t treat others with tenderness. We don’t demonstrate self-restraint and longsuffering with regard to the inconveniences we experience in human relationships, and yet this is Christianity. These require constant reliance upon Christ. They’re not natural for us, but they are for him.
We also don’t often forgive well. We bring the past up over and over again. We browbeat. We want the other to apologize first, and then, maybe, we’ll step up. Because this is human nature, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write “forgive” three times here. That means it’s really important. We can’t do all the other parts of these instructions if we bear a grudge, if we won’t forgive.
“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Period. No loopholes. How did he forgive? He forgave graciously, willingly, and completely, totally saturated in love for us. “God is love” (1 John 4:8b). And so, to forgive, to put on these qualities so essential for peaceful human coexistence, we must “put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” This is a command."Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Period. No loopholes. How did he forgive? He forgave graciously, willingly, and completely, totally saturated in love for us. "God is love." Click To Tweet
Jesus is our model. He’s the only one who lived this perfectly, and because he did, we’re able to be forgiven, accepted by God, and inhabited by his Holy Spirit. Therefore, with his help and empowerment, we can grow in selflessness. Will we?
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8 NIV).
Do we do this? Do we seek our own advantage or the advantage of others? Do we serve others, or are we looking to be served? Do we humble ourselves, or do we feel we’re better than those around us? Do we evaluate every bit of news about this virus and consider how we can best protect and help others?#Coronavirus #HelpingOthers: Do we humble ourselves, or do we feel we're better than those around us? Do we evaluate the news about this virus and consider how we can best protect and help others? Click To Tweet
That means carefully opening up our country by painstakingly following the CDC’s safety guidelines, so that the predicted 19-20% unemployment rate can be avoided, allowing people to feed their families and to pay their bills in order to avoid economic ruin and disaster.
That means putting on a mask when we go out into groups, because we never know if we’re asymptomatic — infected with the virus, contagious, and yet demonstrating no signs. According to early stats, at least a million of us may be walking around in that state with no idea that we carry the virus.
That means being super cautious with the elderly, the sick, and the young, washing our hands carefully, avoiding personal contact with those in weakened health, or with underlying or chronically ill conditions.
That means stepping into every single one of these necessities simultaneously, creating a vastly different world than we have had in the past, as we move through these COVID19 cycles that may take several years.
Will we yield, not thinking we should get to do whatever we want? Will we show gentleness and patience when we’re irritated or opposed? Will we use kind tones and words? Will we bear with one another, rather than shoving the other away or pushing back with raised voices and harsh words? Can we embrace all of this change and sacrifice out of love for Christ?
There’s only one way to go about learning this lesson in selflessness. We must apply the medicine of God’s Word to our hearts and minds daily, a dose that softens our hearts and transforms our lives. This requires us to slow down, to meditate on what God has said, to evaluate our own application of it, to repent, and to turn again to him when we see the many places where we’ve failed.There's only one way to go about learning selflessness. We must apply the medicine of God's Word to our hearts and minds daily, a dose that softens our hearts and transforms our lives. #HelpingOthers Click To Tweet
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:15-17 NIV).
By the grace of God and with his help, we can be transformed. This virus and all of the changes in our lives can be used by him to teach us selflessness, to propel us into a lifestyle that more closely models the sacrifices of the Savior. Or, we can become hardened and selfish, guarding our rights and neglecting the rights and needs of others.
What will we do? How will we respond to the Holy Spirit’s urging?