In his devotion “All Things New,” John Eldridge writes, “The renewal of all things is meant to be your first hope in the way that God is your first love. If it isn’t the answer to your wildest dreams, if you aren’t ready at this very moment to sell everything and buy this field (Matthew 13:44), then you have placed your hopes somewhere else.”
As a Great Commission people, we know that advancing the kingdom is our greatest duty and should be our greatest desire. But during this pandemic, it feels like everything is on hold.
The book of Jeremiah reminds us that because of Israel’s unwillingness to turn from their idols, God allowed the Babylonians to destroy Israel and the temple. Most of the vessels of the sanctuary and many of the Jews were carried away to Babylon as slaves for 70 years.
Israel had their nation and their identity taken from them, and they longed to get back to the way things were. Even the prophet Hananiah told them what they wanted to hear — that they would return home in two years.
But God told His people that while they were captives in Babylon, they were to build houses, plant gardens, and instead of decreasing, they were to marry and continue to increase. In addition, they were to seek the welfare of the city in which they lived and to pray to the Lord for it because their own welfare would come from the welfare of that city.
Their situation should resonate with us during this time. We must recognize that God does not always want us to get back to the way things were. He is doing something during this time to awaken His people. We may be in these circumstances for a while, at least in some form. God uses times like these to challenge His people both personally and corporately. He desires idols to fall and the church to return to its biblical core.
So, what are we to do in the midst of this pandemic? By allowing God to refine us during this situation, the time is not wasted. Even now, we can plow new ground for the kingdom.
The kingdom advances every time you teach Scripture in a Zoom Bible study and someone turns to the Lord or they surrender a part of their heart they have been holding on to.
The kingdom advances every time someone who never would have come to church watches an online service.
The kingdom advances every time the church is pushed to get away from traditionalism and to define their worship services by the core elements seen in Scripture.
The kingdom advances every time you encourage a pastor and he stays the course instead of yielding to Satan’s discouragement.
Allow God to refine you during this time. We don’t have to be together physically to advance the kingdom. The kingdom exists wherever and whenever man submits to God.
And when we do come out of this, maybe we will see that it’s not about getting back to normal, but seeking a new normal that is grounded in Scripture.