Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Many of us have been worried about stopping our regular faith-based activities. We’re concerned at the notion that, by doing so, we have become an ‘Army in retreat*’, or that the Church is somehow closed (see 'The Church Has No Walls'). Where things are left undone, we fear, ‘The Devil is getting in and taking ground’.
Don’t worry. It’s not true.
Acting in love is never a retreat, it’s always a victory
Acting in love is never a retreat, it’s always a victory. Acting in love is the way of Jesus, not the way of the enemy. Taking action to protect one another - even if it does mean sacrificing our most beloved activities - surely that is an act of love? 1 Corinthians 13:7 speaks of love that ‘bears all things’ (ESV and others) or ‘always protects’ (NIV). The underlying language of this verse speaks of a protective covering**, or even a roof - the idea being that love covers us over and wards off the elements. Love is a shield of protection. I don’t think that kind of love knowingly exposes anyone to the risk of harm.
If you’ve been looking for a ‘biblical’ point of view on recent events, perhaps you’ve found yourself identifying with the disciples as they were thrown about on a stormy Galilee. (Mark 4:35-41) Everything’s being tipped over and shaken up; there’s a genuine, unpredictable threat all around you. You wouldn’t be the first disciple to cry out ‘Teacher, don’t you care?’ (Mark 4:38) You might have felt stung by Jesus’ accusation that your faith is a bit on the small side. Again, not the first.
However, the purpose of that story is not to generate a fixed model for faith in sticky situations. Jesus didn’t become obliged to calm every subsequent storm, whether literal or metaphorical, just because it was going to be ‘in the Bible’. There were many other ways He chose to deal with things, depending on the outcome He wanted to achieve. On Good Friday, rather than subduing His creation as He had that day on the lake, He chose to submit to it as the storm clouds gathered once again. We literally thank God every Sunday and every Easter that He did.
The purpose of the Galilee story is not to highlight the what or the how, but to reveal the who. It tells us that our faith is not in what Jesus did, does, or will do, but in who He is. We don’t know what He will do, or how He will do it, but we can always know who He is. We can always be certain that, whatever the outcome - miraculous or tragic - He is Lord. That’s what we can put our faith in. Whatever the best way through all this is, He’ll lead us that way. We can trust Him for the right outcome, even when we don’t understand it.
Facing down the storm and claiming lordship over it isn’t the only right way to do things.
Facing down the storm and claiming lordship over it isn’t the only right way to do things. Remember Good Friday. Remember, too, that Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus out of harm’s way while Herod was on his murderous rampage. (Matthew 2:13-23) No one questions their wise caution, we simply assume that it was the best way to preserve His life at that time.
If we can preserve one another’s lives by taking ourselves out of harm’s way for a while, that’s a very loving, selfless, Jesus-ey thing to do. Love always protects.
Darren Shaw © 2020 The Word Tribe. All rights reserved.
*'Army in retreat' is especially pertinent for any fellow SA readers
**For word nerds: Greek stego, meaning to protect or keep by covering. It's where the Stegosaurus gets its name, as its back is covered by armour plating.