This current lockdown situation is not ideal, the fact we currently do not meet as a church is saddening and we await the return of our face-to-face meetings, but the Lord still works. We hear references to the easing of the lockdown but not much has changed – we can now go outside with our household an unlimited number of times. Yet we wait for further clarification. But what of the Church? There remain questions as to when and how we should meet again, and whether some of us are just softies from not raising more objections. However, in this blog I want to concentrate four potential good things that have transpired from this lockdown (I will comment on the rest in future weeks).
1. There are greater resources of Gospel preaching online.
One of the great instructions of Christ that we find in Matthew 28 is the Great Commission. To go into all the world and preach the Gospel. Yet those who we can reach online, but we will never come across in person or walk into a church, are maybe not thought about enough. I know some struggle with online platforms (Social Media etc.) and you are right to point out the dangers, but we can still share the Gospel in a visible way to a younger unchurched generation without compromising. It was Christ who got into the boat in Mark 4.1,2 to facilitate the broader audience. So it was Tyndale and Luther, and many others who utilised the printing press to spread the Gospel through the Bible. Others utilised better travel to go to remote parts to share the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. Is some form of online outreach not an extension of that? Is the amount of churches now posting online exposing more to the Gospel?
2. It counterbalances (to some extent) false or bad teaching online
Linked to the previous matter of a increase in biblical gospel preaching being published online, what already exists online has caused problems for many a young Christian. The amount of confusion and erroneous content readily consummed by belivers has been a matter of prayerful concern to me for some time. When I speak to millennials and the younger generation (and some silver surfers too) they tell me they watch a preacher or teacher on YouTube who was frankly not fit to minister, has no accountability to a local church and is engaged in rabble rousing to heap followers to himself, in extreme cases. With this lockdown it has forced a number of us to move to make services available online and it is my sincere hope for a number of Conservative Evangelicals (if that is even a suitable descriptor nowadays) they will keep this up. For many folks they listen to ‘content’ daily and to have more sound, rigorous, expository, and faithful ministries online is a tremendous thing. May the Lord be pleased to use this to divert many from the popularist preacher to the perspicuous pastor.
3. The Lord can use judgement for revival.
In countless personal testimonies we can trace the providential hand of the Lord leading someone through hard times; humbling them to the foot of the cross, exposing their sin and godlessness, that they may through faith in Christ alone be reconciled to God. It was also the case with Israel on numerous occasions (for example, 2 Chronicles 33:12-13) and whilst we see the secularism abound and battle with Islam in the public square, the Lord could (one cannot be dogmatic) be doing this to humble a nation to bless the church of Christ once more. It is true, people are fickle. After terrorist attacks and other national calamities there is an upsurge in interest (in my experience) both in street evangelism and the spiritual part-timers that the church encounters – with some, as far as we can tell, being brought a genuine profession of faith. The same is the case now, with mortality and our frailty emphasised daily people are shaken, with the usual distractions of life moved removed people are caused to consider the deep meaning for their life. We know God’s Word is not bound (2 Timothy 2.19) and may we all pray for the Lord to do a mighty work in our neighbourhood.
4. It calls us draw closer to Christ.
In most of the West (and the majority of the East) our lives are hectic. We have this or that place to go, this matter to deal with, this person to meet. This situation has removed most of that. You might be a social animal delighting to meet with friends and get our energy from them; or engrained in our work life that we are knee-deep in for the whole week. Yet that has reduced, and we have – dare I say it – spare time. Time to assess our Christian walk with God, time to take to heart the countless times Paul refers to our walk, in terms of the way we live our life (Romans 6.4; Ephesians 4.1; 2 Thessalonians 2:12). Do not miss this opportunity. Sit down and assess. The Lord greatly uses people through their vocation (work), but for many their vocation is the main theme and Christian is just a chorus repeated from time to time. Take this time to review your life and your walk with God, that we would walk worthy of the Christians high calling as the adopted sons and daughters of the Potentate of all things (Ephesians 5.8).