Mar 26, 2020 | Erin Ford
As I sign onto my computer or open my phone in the mornings, I’m hit with an onslaught of news, memes, feelings, ideas, and yes, spiritual content, related to COVID-19. It’s more than a little overwhelming. It’s a lot overwhelming.
A week ago I wanted to bury my head in my covers. My proverbial sand since I can’t actually go see sand, being stuck at home.
I asked myself the same questions so many were asking, how do we walk in these COVID-19 days well? What do we do now? How do we move forward when nothing feels normal? What do we say amidst all the noise? Oh gosh, all the noise.
I’m not ashamed to say that I took time to rest, adjust, grieve, and with the assistance of my doctor, increased the dose of my anxiety medicine. It all has helped, but the questions remain. I want to walk well during this time, not just surviving, but hopefully eventually thriving in this new global season.
As part of Power to Change – Students, we want to do the same.
We want to walk these days well–with all of you, our readers. We want to create a sense of presence, community, and connection. And together, we are trusting Jesus as we walk together with him, to carry out these days faithfully, fruitfully, and fearlessly.
In saying that, we’re not blind to the challenges ahead. This isn’t a call of “Go Christians, Unite!,” like some Power Rangers chant. We desperately need the grace, peace, hope, inner transformation, and love that God offers us. We need it individually, but also collectively, as followers of Jesus walk this out together–along with the diverse communities in which God has placed us.
Here are some short reflections from the teachings of Jesus as we collectively walk faithfully, fruitfully, and fearlessly in these coming days.
Loyal, constant, steadfast. Those are the words that come to mind when I consider faithfulness.
But what does faithfulness look like when we have doubts? Challenges? Concerns? Do those test our loyalty or consistency with God?
I don’t think so. There are natural up and downs in the Christian life, or in life in general, and seasonal questions, doubts, or challenges with God aren’t going to ruin our long-term relationship with him. Being “faithless” is a temporary lapse in trusting Jesus. It’s not out-right denial of Jesus.
Like most other things (salvation, grace, joy, provision), faithfulness actually relies more on God’s side of the relationship than our side anyways. You see, even when we fail to be faithful to God, he remains faithful to us (2 Timothy 2:13). He remains faithful to secure our salvation and eternity with him, even when we have seasons of struggling to trust him.
So how then does Jesus invite us to walk? Even in seasons of uncertainty and chaos, we can walk trusting Jesus for his provision, or our “daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). That each day he will supply what we need for that day. It doesn’t mean we won’t have emotional, relational, or spiritual needs, but that Jesus will provide and care for us.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches on anxiety and trusting in God’s provision. He points to things we can tangibly see in nature, showing how God provides–and even more so, will provide for us since we are of much greater value:
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26)
Jesus invites us to remain faithful to him, trusting that God will supply our needs. Even in our questions, uncertainty, and lack. Friends, let’s walk faithfully together.
When I think of being fruitful, I think of producing. Or accomplishment. Or even more simply, the natural result or consequence of effort. Yet in this new season, our idea of “fruitfulness” may drastically change. And it’s important to acknowledge and maybe even grieve that.
“Work from home” sounds good for maybe two minutes. Or on a snow day. But having potentially several months of “snow days” can feel isolating, boring, and even relationally suffocating. Our idea, or expectations, of what we’re producing then must shift to match our circumstances.
But there’s a certain fruit of our life and heart that God invites us to produce that remains the same.
In John 15, Jesus teaches his disciples on what it means to bear fruit in their lives. He offers,
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
He claims that we cannot bear (or produce) fruit on our own. We need to abide, or rest/remain, in him. Apart from him we can do nothing. What is this fruit that Jesus is talking about? I immediately think of Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control.”
This “fruit” is the result when we walk in step with the Holy Spirit, or in other words, when we walk and live our lives alongside Jesus and we remain in him. It’s the natural overflow of our lives. When we live in surrender, fellowship, and obedience to Jesus, we will see more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Don’t we need more of that in our hearts and relationships? I know I do. We want to live in pursuit of this fruit, abiding in Jesus because on our own, it’s impossible to produce it.
Friends, the invitation then, or first step, is to abide. Let’s walk with Jesus together, abiding well. This will hopefully translate to knowing Jesus deeper, understanding his words and actions, and remaining faithful to his commands.
His truth and Spirit abide in us as well, not just individually, but collectively as followers of Jesus. So we don’t walk alone, but together.
This is a hard one. There’s a lot of fear in this world, lots that we can’t and shouldn’t ignore. And yet, Jesus as both the suffering Servant on the cross and the reigning King, risen from the dead, knew this was coming.
Right before Jesus died on the cross he told his disciples,
“Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:32-33)
Jesus looked ahead towards the cross, the chaos, darkness, and evil of it and knew how his followers would react. He knew they would have fear (John 20:19), scatter, and abandon him (John 18:25-27). In the chaos, uncertainty, and darkness of our time, we are tempted to respond similarly. Fear is a normal response to such times.
But Jesus points us towards another way. He knows that in this world we will have troubles, uncertainties, sickness, and even death. Yet, he offers himself. He offered himself on the cross so that death and darkness would not have the final say. Through his death and resurrection (and promise of returning to earth once more), he literally has overcome all of the troubles, and evil in this world. Thus, when we place our faith in him and walk with him through our life, we can access true peace. His peace. He is the prince of peace, come to a world of chaos, strife, and fear.
The peace Jesus offers through himself, overcoming death on the cross, can ground us in such times like these. This peace can help us walk in faith and not fear. It can help us see the fear, acknowledge it for what it is, and say in faith, “Fear you have no hold on me. I may feel you for a short while but you don’t control me. The peace of Christ holds me still.”
Friends, let’s walk fearlessly together, bound by the peace of Christ that he offers freely through faith in him.
We hope that our content produced and shared in this new season, when our world is disrupted, will help you and us together walk these days faithfully, fruitfully, and fearlessly.
Will you join us?