Crisis + Competition
32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. (Acts 4:32-35)
If you haven’t heard the terms Coronavirus or COVID-19, welcome to the chaos that has been exposed to not one nation, but pretty much every nation of the world! It has now become a recent goal of mine to go an entire day without using either of these terms! But truth be told (and all humor aside), it’s virtually impossible as this virus has impacted so many lives around the globe. With this pandemic came anxiety, fear, over-reactions, under-reactions, and the like. What also came with this was a rushed requirement for the local Church and believers on the Lord Jesus Christ to not only assess how to alter their personal daily schedules for work, school, and necessities, but also to reevaluate the way we’ve been “doing church” for decades. Weekly worship services are being canceled or altered by the thousands daily as necessary precautions are being declared and taken, trickling down from national authorities to local entities. And this has been a tough blow. Today’s pastor and his or her team are bearing the weight of providing spiritual guidance in a world frenzied with panic. Never before has “thus sayeth the Lord” been needed like today. But how do we get the Word out?
The primary goal? Provide consistent support, training, teaching, worship, and preaching for the believers to keep them invigorated and activated in their faith. Today’s traumatic events require believers who will stand firm in their faith, empowered by the Holy Spirit and grounded upon the principles found in the Scriptures. But the driving force behind it all is (or rather, should be) to reach the lost with Hope that they’re scrambling for in a crazed world, desperate for direction.
If we aren’t careful, though, the western Church will tragically miss an opportunity to put out a clarion call that loudly blasts, “Jesus saves! Jesus saves!” because we are already busy competing for the “who’s got the greatest idea” trophy. “Wow! Look at us! We have more faith than you because we reached this many more families with groceries this week!” “Ha! That’s nothing! We’ll raise you one as we held drive-through communion and have given out hundreds of ‘I Got You’ t-shirts for COVID-19 awareness!” “Watch out for our tech team! They’ve made it possible for us to take calls for prayer DURING the service and provide drive-through anointing services!”
…the greatest pandemic that seems to have been lost on the Church in recent days is the pandemic of a hopeless world without Christ.
This pandemic carries with it a variety of firsts that this generation, and quite a few before it, has never seen before. But the greatest pandemic that seems to have been lost on the Church in recent days is the pandemic of a hopeless world without Christ. In the text I shared above from Acts, chapter four, we see that when news began to spread, post-Pentecost, that the Messianic prophecies had been fulfilled through the one and only Jesus Christ, the new believers were figuring out how to establish what we now know as The Early Church in the face of frenzy and chaos. Let us not forget that they were living in the midst of total pandemonium as much of the day’s population in that locale were receiving the news: Jesus, the Messiah, He is the Savior of the world! Many were believing and choosing to follow Christ’s teaching. But a slew of people were refusing to believe and persecution was picking up steam. It was indeed a social pandemic.
While the Early Church believers did not have much to go on, they had a sense of urgency. “Jesus said He’d be coming back any day. We better get the word out!” Yes, they fully believed Jesus was coming back within their generation’s lifetime and, yes, they fully took Him at at His word, that the responsibility to spread the Good News was completely upon their shoulders. I have no doubt there were plenty of Upper Room meetings held with the Early Church leaders in an effort to decide what was the best method. How would they equip the disciples as the number was growing daily? How could they replicate themselves and yet stay safe and out of jail long enough to create a proper foundation?
I’m sure they made their fair share of mistakes as they learned through trial and error. There was no real precedence for what Jesus had asked them to do. They simply had to rely upon the steady-Eddy principles they had seen lived out before them on those ministry road trips with Jesus Himself. There was no reference point for technology (and let’s be honest, technology is pretty much saving our bacon about now). However, the text I read in Acts 4 pretty well summed up not what they had to do, but who they had to be in order to fulfill the Great Commission in a limited amount of time.
- The Early Church believers had to be of one heart and one soul. Unity was crucial. It had to take front-and-center stage for what Jesus was about to shine through past their fallen humanity. Today, if we are not unified in our goal of reaching the lost, the world will call us out big time. No one can sniff out a fraud better than one who has never surrendered to Christ. Unity is the very DNA of a body of believers. Therefore, bashing others on social media produces nothing but a stumbling block for someone who is desperate to see authentic love like never before.
- They didn’t hoard their blessings. If you have something that someone else needs a little more than you today, trust God enough to give it away. He is the supplier of everything we need anyway! Not Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, that online retailer, or our ingenious ability to get to the store faster than someone else. If the God of the Old Testament taught us anything through Scripture it is that He will do whatever He needs to do to provide for His faithful people. He can rain down bread, bring water from rocks, and even provide the leaves we need for the bathroom better than any other vendor on the planet! But He also does amazing things when the people of God are generous and obedient when He prompts them to give it away.
- All of the apostles shared of their own witness of Jesus’ Resurrection. Yes, all of them. Let us not be guilty of letting the pastor carry all of the burden. “I’m praying for ya, Pastor, that you’ll stay healthy enough to feed us spiritually while we watch TV all day and scroll online. Give us something good that’ll keep us encouraged.” Nope. Let all the believers be found testifying of God’s faithfulness and the Hope we have found in His Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus is alive! And if this time of crisis provides just one tidbit of knowledge, it is that Jesus’s return is extremely close at hand. These types of crises are fulfilling prophecies left and right, giving us the urgency like that Early Church had–He could very well come before this generation is laid to rest.
We’re taking it one day at a time.
That’s all we’ve ever really done–take life one day at time. The fact is that our lives have come to a screeching halt long enough for us to absorb the impact of that reality. We’ve never been promised tomorrow. And so we thank the Lord that He has granted us one more day to seek His face in prayer, take in His Word, grow in knowledge of the End Times, impress upon our children the value of serving Christ faithfully, and encourage one another. The benefit? Like the Early Church, great grace will be upon us all (vs 33). And He will see us through to the finish, rejoicing in all He has done in the face of even a pandemic.