On Sunday, I joined probably millions of Christians in the US as they were confined to a “Bedside Baptist” service because of the coronavirus. For many, I’m sure watching a livestream service from their bedroom or living room was quite strange, but having been in spiritually-starved communities abroad, I’d gotten used to tuning into a service from miles and miles away.
I spent the day with family, and during and after breakfast, we watched the livestream service of my home church. After that service concluded, we did a bit of church hopping, watching two more services that morning as well, including one in another time zone.
For me, it was interesting to see how each pastor and each church had a slightly different approach to address their congregations about this global pandemic, the coronavirus, and the perpetuating questions of Why is this happening and What do we do?
Recognizing Spiritual Warfare
One sermon in particular, the second one we watched, really hit home for me personally because it answered the question: Why is this happening with a very simple, direct answer–Spiritual Warfare.
Dr. Tony Evans, the pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, said that we don’t see the whole picture until we look at things in the physical realm and the spiritual realm.
The fantasy novel that I wrote (see post “Champion of Hide and Seek“) has in its essence the same principle. My main character is so concerned with and grounded in the physical world that he can’t fathom the spiritual war going on around him–of course, until it pulls him in and he is thus, forced to respond to it.
Though my book is fantasy, the world I create is similar to ours in that spiritual warfare is happening constantly–we just have to be aware of it. And on Sunday, I was awakened to the spiritual warfare that is happening globally right now and also in my own heart.
Dr. Tony Evans spoke and taught on the passage of 2 Chronicles 15:3-6.
“(3) For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. (4) But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. (5) In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. (6) One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress.” (NIV)
To me, verses 5 and 6 mimic the state of our world today with the coronavirus pandemic: distress, turmoil, crushed.
Dr. Evans explained how we are seeing God’s passive wrath, not that this is His way to punish mankind, but that when we dismiss God, this is the resulting state of the world–anxiety, distress, and chaos. We, mankind, have been left to our own devices, and we’ve started to discover that our own devices aren’t that great.
God lets us get in distress in order to get our undivided attention, and through Dr. Evan’s message on Sunday, God had my attention. And I was ready to listen.
On Monday, I read the rest of 2 Chronicles 15 because I wanted to see how it ended and how Israel finally received God’s mercy. The answer: they tore down all their idols and turned their hearts back to the Lord.
As a Christian, first, it was easy to say that “yes, these heathens need to stop sinning and turn back to the Lord.” But in reality, I’m the one that needs to stop sinning and turn back to the Lord. I’m a sinner, too. I’ve raised idols in my heart, too. I also need to surrender to the Lord.
Complacency in Christianity is just as dangerous as unbelief because complacency allows us to drift ever-so-steadily, so steadily that we don’t even notice it.
We still think that the Lord is the center of our life, but He’s not. Yet at least if we are aware that the Lord is not the center of our lives, we can turn the boat and start paddling in a new direction toward Him.
Somewhere along the way, I’ve pulled up my anchor and started to drift in complacency toward other idols. One of my biggest idols is my circumstances and personal achievement. I let them dictate my joy and wellbeing instead of the Lord. Another is my time and hoarding it for myself instead of giving it freely to the Lord.
I want to tear these down in my heart. I want devotedness and discipleship to Christ to again become the anchor in my heart.
This is spiritual warfare, but God wants us to draw closer to Him. He wants us to pursue relationship with Him and let Him rule–His word over ours.
Be encouraged! 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says,
“(16) Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (17) For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (18) So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Let’s fix our eyes on the eternal and the unseen. Let’s fix our eyes on Him, Jesus Christ, and let Him rule our hearts.
I also encourage you to watch the entirety of Dr. Evans’ message and pray that it blesses you also. May we rely on Faith: an anchor in distress during coronavirus, COVID-19.
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