While much of the world has been under quarantine with altered schedules, canceled classes, and empty grocery stores, we are just getting a glimpse of this in America. Today, what many celebrate as St. Patty’s Day, the communities around me spend it as if it’s their last day on earth–or at least of normal life. Today is the last day that local schools are open, restaurants are closing their dining rooms, grocery stores are limiting hours and purchases, and even my gym is closing its doors! Starting tomorrow I have nowhere to go and nothing to do.
How would you spend your last day on earth?
From where I stand, many Christians are losing sight of the mission of the church. God’s church. Christ’s bride. These uncertain times have brought out the ugliness of the flesh that we all hope to avoid. I’ve been studying the Fruits of the Spirit with my husband lately, and the things I’m learning seem like something I should’ve known all along. If this is my last day on earth, I want to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-disciplined. Of course, it’s not our last day on earth–just the last day of life as we knew it–for a while.
Though times are uncertain and we may not know when our stores will have the groceries we need, or when schools will reopen and life will continue on, we can follow the lead of the Spirit of God, and bear the fruits that result.
The Christians who are being impatient, hateful, and rude during this time are not walking in the Spirit. Being impatient and rude back to those people is not walking in the Spirit.
Church, in order to live in the Spirit, we must withhold from our flesh.
This means that when a crisis comes, we don’t make excuses for our flesh. We don’t say “I just can’t get along with them…” or “My anxiety made me do it…” Instead, we can seek God. We can go out of our way to help instead of hurt. We can act out of love instead of lashing out in revenge. We can pray for self-control instead of hoarding, bingeing, and panicking. We can live out Romans 13:14: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Putting on Jesus
What does it mean to put on Jesus? Let’s look at this together:
Jesus did not shun the sick. He healed them. (Matthew 8)
Jesus did not take advantage of the poor nor did he ignore them. (Matthew 25)
Jesus did not take action against those who were meant to persecute and essentially crucify Him but instead loved them even enough to lay down His life. (John 15)
Jesus wasn’t even impatient while experiencing a painful and slow death but instead prayed for those who did it. (Luke 23)
I’m afraid of so much. I’m afraid of the government. I’m afraid of other people. I’m afraid that food will run out and money will run out and my neighbors won’t have jobs to go back to when we’re on the other side of all this.
I’m afraid of all the things I don’t know and cannot know, but I realize that knowing would be a burden. Instead of focusing on all those things I don’t know, I can focus on what I do.
And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. (Revelation 22)
Not only is Jesus coming back for us (despite the outcome of these current events), but Jesus has seen the beginning and the end and all things in between. I’m sure Adam and Eve were distressed and depressed as they made their way out of Eden. I’m sure Noah thought life looked bleak as he was trapped in the ark week after week. The Israelites were restless and unhappy during their wandering in the wilderness. The early Christians were likely confounded and weary over the task before them and the state of the world around them. In all cases, though, Christ reigns. He does still.
To close, I want to draw your attention to a song that keeps repeating in my mind this week:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
look full in His wonderful face,
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace.