I woke up this morning. The sun was shining. I could hear birds chirping outside. Seemed like a normal spring day in the Carolinas.
But it isn’t normal.
These days... they have not been “normal” in any sense of the word for two months now.
We’ve had to think twice about our shopping habits for common things like toilet paper and rice.
We’ve watched gas prices plummet to the point where water costs more per gallon. But sadly we don’t have anywhere to go.
We’ve been told to stay home and to keep our distance.
We have witnessed the church adapt to new ways to keep on talking and praying and studying the Bible.
Things are just not moving in the same old ways.
And to be honest no one is sure when exactly this crisis will end.
Everybody is trying to regain their balance in this disrupted off-balance world.
When the news of COVID-19 first started to build, and Americans started realizing that it was finally here and something serious,
we weren’t sure what to do exactly. It’s like nothing we’ve seen in over 100 years.
So we listened.
We listened to leaders, to pastors, to news outlets, to Youtube videos.
We listened so we could learn. And try to do the right thing.
Some people felt a lot of fear. Some felt annoyed at the shutdown. Some lost hope as they lost their jobs.
A lot of us followed the basic rules of social distancing and hunkering down.
So we could flatten the curve...
And that was all good.
But now... now, how should we respond?
In these uncertain days, how should a genuine believer in Jesus Christ live?
Shouldn’t a follower of God Himself be set apart for a time such as this?
I’m just saying: it seems that at some point our lives should stand out in the crowd.
Not for ego. Not because of pride. Not the sake of rebellion or just to be different.
We should stand out because that is what salt and light does in the world.
All it takes is a little salt on the food.
All it takes is a burst of light in immense darkness.
That’s all it takes to make a difference.
So, I’ll ask again: How should I respond? How should we respond?
I was reading 1 Corinthians 13 recently. Yeah, yeah, I know. Most people know it as the love passage.
The one read at every Christian wedding. And though it can be very appropriate for those times, yet I still sense
that it has something to speak into these peculiar days we are living in.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
The Apostle Paul just spent over a dozen verses writing all about the singular idea of love.
About how love is greater than all the spectacular gifts we might have, than any knowledge we might treasure, than good deeds for the poor.
He explored and plumbed the depths of what this love is truly like, not just some romantic notion or trite Hallmark slogan.
It is a love that is persistent and rugged and undeniably supernatural... because most folks don’t naturally love this way.
It dawned on me that - far more than in just marriage - this love was meant to be a mark for all those who profess to love Jesus.
It’s almost like Paul was stripping away all that could define us or enthrall us and distilling it down to basics.
To the essentials.
Of how we should live and how we should respond in any situation.
How then should we respond?
Paul mentions that three things remain.
FAITH. Is there faith in Jesus? As I live my life day by day, is there something - anything - that marks my life with faith. With a sense of risk because I trust in God above all else. Because faith does matter. And whom I believe in is crucial.
Also HOPE. That in the midst of so many worries and so many uncertainties, I should find resolved within my heart the determination to hold onto the One who has my best interests in mind. I can have hope of a better day on the way because I know the God who is boldly good and also loves me enough to die for me. That is a hope that is resilient no matter what.
But then there is LOVE. And it is the greatest of the three.
A day will come when we won’t need faith because we will simply see God clearly and know Him fully.
A day will come when hope won’t be needed because God will have taken away all the pain and suffering and will have replaced it with fullness of joy and satisfaction in His presence.
But love will always matter and be crucial in all we do.
Someone once said that this life is like a dress rehearsal for the next life.
We learn to love well now - we can bless many people today - so that we are ready to love even more in eternity.
So, I want to live in such a way that I love people more deeply than ever before.
That out of the immense love the Father has poured on me, I would pour out love where it is most needed.
I ask myself:
Am I prioritizing loving God with all my heart and soul and mind and body, letting His love fill up this dry and dusty heart?
Am I on the lookout for the corners of the world where love is needed?
Is there love playing out in my life that is both lavish and supernatural?
Will the love of Christ be expressed through me, through the church?
We live in peculiar times. And life may not seem normal.
May the love of God flow and resonate through me in ways that are far from normal.