Ready and Powerful
On Sunday morning, Jurie walked us through one of the most well-known parts of scripture, where Paul uses the extended metaphor of armor to convey how Christians prepare for battle (Ephesians 6:13-17). When we arm ourselves with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Spirit, we are truly prepared for whatever may come our way in either the physical or the spiritual realm.
For me, the key word throughout Sunday's message was "prepared." One of the things Jurie said was that this message was planned months in advance, well before the COVID-19 virus and its associated chaos hit us in Austin. It reminded me that in real, tangible ways, 5twelve City Church has been preparing for these days since our inception in August of 2018.
This post isn't here to brag about how well 5twelve is prepared for doing things like online streaming of services or doing Sundays in non-traditional venue-free ways, but when you think about it, having done things differently did prepare us for the COVID-19 environment. When I remember that our teams have had to operate without an office space for a year, I realize that we're all already accustomerd to using technology to see one another on a day-to-day basis.
As I've journeyed with 5twelve since months before our first service together, I have taken note of all of the truly astonishing ways God has provided to make our church real and vibrant and relevant. The very existence of this church is the result of miracle after miracle after miracle.
How much more, then, can we stand firm knowing that God has been preparing His people for the times they live in? Over and over, Mordecai's admonition to Esther has been coming to mind this week:
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NIV)
Before we continue, let me say that I think there's a very real difference between lament and wallowing. I do think it's appropriate for Christians to lament the suffering going on around us. After all, Paul did say, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15, NIV). Part of our role as God's people is to show heartfelt compassion for those around us.
But I also want us to feel joy in the fact that God has positioned us, His people, to show compassion well during the time in which He has placed us. Do you feel ill-suited to this isolation in which you find yourself? Are you an extrovert just longing for a real human connection? Or do you feel ideally-suited to this way of life? Either way, you can rejoice in the knowledge that our God is prepared, and he has prepared us - he has prepared you - with the "armor" and the "weapons" to fight the good fight in this time.
Sad news sells copy. Frightening news sells even more copy, not to mention toilet paper. I'm not saying that we should ignore the suffering in the world right now, but I'm calling us to rejoice that God's people have the preparation, the armor, and the strength to stand when everything around us seems to be crumbling. Remember, the Evil One comes to "steal and kill and destroy; [but Jesus came that we] may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10, NIV). May we find that life, share it with one another, and bring it to our world that desperately needs it right now, as always.