Perspectives on a Pandemic: Part 5

April 17, 2020


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Ten "commandments" for living under our stay-at-home guidelines


Hello, Alliance family. Thanks for the thousands of you who joined us last week for the Good Friday service. We’re month two now, for a lot of us, in this home confinement, quarantine kind of era. I’m standing outside my home and want to just acknowledge that life’s different. “A month ago,” as a friend of mine says, “If you would’ve showed up at my house with a mask on, I wouldn’t have opened the door to you. And now, I won’t open the door to you if you don’t have a mask on.”

Another friend said, “If I walked into a bank a month ago with a mask on, that would’ve been a very different sign than walking into a bank with a mask on today.”

A month ago, if I had stepped aside off the sidewalk and walked six feet into the grass when you passed by as another pedestrian, I would’ve been rude. Now, I’m being considerate and polite. If you knew that a month ago I was wearing slippers every day to work you would’ve thought, That’s kind of weird for the president. But now, I’ll confess, every day I show up for work, so to speak, in my lower level and I’m in slippers. What a difference a month has made.

And now that we’re in month two, I don’t want to be sacrilegious in how I go about this, but I want to give us “10 commandments” for how to handle month two of confinement.

Number one. Thou shalt speak Jesus. This is a moment in time for us to be even more intentional in our evangelism, whether you’re the pastor doing livestream or some Facebook live, other forms of social media, or you’re at home writing letters or on some Zoom call, this is not a time to pull back on evangelism. Rather, let’s scatter the seeds of the gospel; this message that people need most, and we have their attention more now, perhaps, than we have in the past.

Number two. Thou shalt Sabbath well. Whether you have a long-time sabbath practice or are just learning one now, don’t miss this opportunity that confinement brings us to—one day a week—to stop, quit, cease, desist, to accept the invitation to stop striving and to engage more fully in intimacy with our Lord.

Number three. Thou shalt continue to either begin to learn to tithe and give offerings from that which God has given to us. I know that in the opening weeks of the economic downturn, it felt kind of odd to talk about finances. But I’m coming to us today and saying, “Let’s rise, Church, to continue to do what the Church has done throughout history and offer God back that which He’s given to us and see God multiply those gifts.”

And number four. Thou shalt invite others to do the same. I laid low on making any asks financially in the opening weeks of this crisis; but, at this moment in time I believe it’s a chance for us to say, “Join me in being a tithing, offering, ‘giving’ kind of person to support your church, ministries that you care about, and the Great Commission Fund.” Great Commission Day materials are going out, as I speak; not in the form of print, or poster, or that kind of thing—all digital, but “Caring in Chaos.” We have our teams positioned in the least-reached places of the world, and we want to keep them there, being able to distribute the message of Jesus where it is most needed.

Commandment number five. Thou shalt resist passivity. Some of us are tempted to not engage with worship but just watch it. Some of us are attempting to become couch potatoes and give up all efforts at exercise. Some of us are tempted to quit learning new methods of communication technology—those kinds of things. Friends, let’s resist passivity and continue to, or learn to, engage in worship online. Let’s find ways to exercise, keep stretching ourselves with those kinds of tools that will benefit us for years to come and not become passive.

Number six. Thou shalt show kindness. Terry Smith, vice president for Church Ministries, reminds me that second Samuel, in Chapter 8, David is said to have now reigned over all of his row, but just verses later, as Chapter 9 opens, he’s asking the question, “Is there anybody left from the family of Jonathan that I could show kindness to?” And he shows kindness to one individual. This is a moment for us to be looking in our neighborhoods and in our relationships and saying, “Is there somebody that needs an extra word or act of kindness—showing up at their doorstep with a meal, some way of showing kindness—at this moment in time?”

Number seven. Thou shalt keep short accounts. With more time together in closer proximity—with people that, perhaps, we live with, and the underlying stress that COVID-19 brings—is a recipe for extra tension in a home. And this is a time to learn to keep short accounts with one another and with the Lord. Why go through a whole day with some snarky awkwardness between us? Let’s keep those accounts short.

Number eight. Thou shalt lament. We lost our first Alliance worker to COVID-19. Others of you have family members who have died or are currently struggling. Some of our pastors have memorial services being backed up because people have died in their congregation and they can’t properly acknowledge that at this time. Others of us haven’t had that kind of crisis or tragedy, but we’ve all lost something during this season. And grief is the appropriate response to loss. May we use this season to learn to grieve well . . . rejoicing with those who rejoice, mourning with those who mourn, and allowing the good work of grief to deepen our own souls.

Number nine. Thou shalt not stigmatize. This is a difficult time to be an Asian-American. And I lament; I grieve with those who have had to put up with [an] extra amount of just wrong behavior, attitudes, comments—and I’m sorry. May the Alliance family be the kind of people who rise above racial stereotyping and that kind of thing, and be people who love and see past our own prejudices that arise in our own hearts, and just be above that.

Number 10. Thou shalt seek first His Kingdom and righteousness. There’s never been a good time to be tied to the kingdoms of this world, but this is an especially bad time. And may we use this season to seek after His heart, to more fully engage with our Lord and the things that matter to Him.

I don’t know which of these 10 may have resonated most with you, but I don’t want to look back on this season and say, “I missed the chance that I had to seek after the heart of God or to grow in some way.”

And so, may we enter into all that He has for us at this time. And, yes, it is snowing harder the more that I continue this video; so, I’ll bring it to a close with this word: May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.


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