The learning curve set by the Covid19 pandemic has been undeniably steep. The negative aspects have no need of explanation- they are only too obvious, too grim, and God certainly had our attention , as the very underpinnings of society crumbled, leaving only the very centre of our faith, our Lord Jesus, as the only solid and trustworthy foundation left worth building on. I wasn’t even sure exactly what it was I was being taught by the situation we now found ourselves in, but by shutting the physical doors of the church it seemed that He unleashed the opportunity to live out our faith in service of others in less conventional ways, encouraging us to think differently, and so allowing us to love those outside our usual points of contact, so widening our field of vision. It has given us the chance to get out of the boat.
The counter cultural teachings in which we believe have been further highlighted as those so often sidelined in our estimations and in society have been re aligned to positions of greater importance during these times, and we have been made to recognise this. It remains a source of absolute wonder to me that a gentleman of 100 years old could not only be such a massive contributor financially to our NHS, but also inspire both young and old to follow suit….and a supermarket worker, who, shocked to find that she was considered an essential worker, clearly thought herself unimportant, yet where would the people of this country have been without them? Will we consider others differently in the future, seeing them as valuable children of God, to be loved as He loves us?…Because after all, ‘ …in the image of God has God made man‘ (Genesis 9 v 6).
“Be kindly affectionate toward one another with brotherly love, in honour and giving preference to one another.”
Romans 12 v 10
As time moved on and the world ceased its usual activities in response to Covid19other thought provoking situations emerged; The ‘Black lives matter’ campaign brought to the surface decades of inequality, and it prompted me to examine my own attitudes.
In the book “Good Faith” by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons it considers many difficult topics, and in one chapter how we as Christians think and interact when faced with prejudice and discrimination . I thought I’d settle down and enjoy a gentle read, but instead I found myself anything but comfortable, having to examine my own views and behaviours … well, of course I’m not prejudiced….am I? If I’ve ever avoided a certain part of town (and I have), then I realised I may have deep seated previously unacknowledged prejudices… But “…in the image of God has God made man”, so I can’t afford to think that way about other human beings.
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble”.
1 Peter 3 v 8
Kinnerman and Lyons illustrate by means of a simple equation a combination of considerations to help us live along side others and in doing so, with the help of the Holy Spirit, honour God in our dealings and relationships :-
Love (How we love God, and others) + belief (what we believe about the Bible, where we came from, why we are here, what went wrong, and how it can be fixed.) + Life (how we live out this faith). When these are combined in a genuine effort to serve, it make us effective in our interactions with those whom God has placed around us, whether we agree with, or indeed even like them, because we all need to belong, to be loved .
“Led by love, grounded in biblical belief, and ready to live as a counterculture for the common good, we trust that our good faith will be used by God to renew the world” (“Good Faith” Kinnerman and Lyons Page 262 2016).