The world has endured plagues, wars, poverty and oppression for generations. Jesus promised that no matter what happens in the world, He will continue to build His church. It is the promise and the hope of God’s people that He will uphold us with His righteous right hand. How should we think about emerging from these difficult days?
In 1948, shortly after the advent of the atomic bomb, C. S. Lewis wrote about how to live in an atomic age:
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
These words were written 72 years ago and yet they apply to the situation we find ourselves in today. While life has changed dramatically over the past many weeks, we must pull ourselves together and go about doing sensible and human things.
Now is not the time to turn inward and retreat to self-preservation. Now is the time to look outward and upward.
In the wake of catastrophe, there has never been a greater opportunity to spend yourself for the good of others. God’s Word is full of exhortations to love one another. Romans 13:8, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
John Piper has defined love as “the overflow of joy in God, which gladly meets the needs of others.” I think this is a helpful way of considering love in these days. The needs of others are many and varied. Physical needs. Financial needs. Emotional needs. Spiritual needs. And now that the illusion of control and abundance has been removed, people are more aware of these needs than ever before. Are your eyes open to these needs? Are you looking for opportunities to enter others' lives with the hope of the gospel and the truth of God’s Word?
Love is not always expressed in extravagance. In fact, often, it is quiet and subtle. It is given in the gift of time. It is received by others when you offer a patient, listening ear. Love overflows in gracious words that are sweetness to the soul and health to the body (Proverbs 16:24).
What are the sensible and human things that you can engage in to love others as we continue emerging from these difficult times?
Don’t miss the ‘overflow’ reality in Piper’s definition of love. We will struggle to truly look outward if we are not first looking upward. If you do not have a truth-grounded, Christ-exalting, Spirit-given saturation of joy in God, then you will never be able to genuinely love others.
In Philippians 1:21–25 Paul says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.”
This is what it looks like to look upward and outward during these times. Life is Christ. That is, your mind and affections are consumed with adoration of Christ so much so, that dying would actually be the best-case scenario because of the glory and joy of being in His immediate presence. When you are passionately consumed with a love for the Lord in this way, it will express itself in fruitful labor that results in others' progress and joy in the faith.
How do you grow in this kind of love? Look to Jesus and consider Him (Hebrews 12:2–3). Set your mind on the things above, not on the things of the earth (Colossians 3:2). Be transformed by the renewal of your mind as you consider truth from God’s Word (Romans 12:2). Abide in Christ, that is, know His Word and obey His Word (John 15:10).
From the love of God and for the love of God, let’s go about doing sensible and human things as we look outward and look upward.