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June 05th, 2020
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gary damronMY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron

 

Many of us certainly have time on our hands, and there have been numerous posts suggesting how to make this time count. Last Sunday was one of the few days since I became a Christian that we didn’t attend a church service on Sunday. Visiting our daughter out of state, we found no churches meeting in person. We spent Sunday driving to the coast, listening to one of our favorite preachers on YouTube, and we found a streamed church service. I reflected on how we have relegated ourselves to gathering together only once a week. Many believers see every day as sacred, but the importance of gathered worship and fellowship is still essential for support and encouragement. 

The early church gathered “daily in one accord” after the Jewish custom. People are watching warily to see how far governments will go with limitation of freedoms. Much has been written recently about how the church can continue to be the church when we cannot meet. Hopefully we learn our lessons well enough that we can continue serving Christ and others after our buildings reopen. It’s good to remember that God never intended for paid ministers to be the only ones doing his work. 

One emphasis during this time has been on prayer and calling upon the Lord. A recurring phrase has echoed from the Lord’s Prayer, “deliver us from evil.” I used to interpret this only as, “don’t let bad things happen to us.” But through the years I’ve come to believe it is just as important to pray that the Lord “deliver us from doing evil.” Worse than a life-threatening event - whether it’s physical well-being or our way of life - is to do evil (sin) against God or our fellows. 

For the past several weeks, we’ve looked at places where Jesus walked. Since we are currently by the sea (the Pacific Ocean), I thought it would be fitting to look at Jesus and his disciples on the Sea of Galilee. One of Tony Evans’ sermons recently dealt with a circumstance faced by the disciples. These men whose livelihood had been fishing suddenly found their lives threatened by a storm at sea (Mark 4:35-41). Sometimes the greatest danger lies in inner turmoil created by external problems. 

Jesus had told his followers to sail to the other side, and then he lay down in the boat and went to sleep. When a violent storm arose, these seasoned fishermen were in a panic and wakened him. “‘Do you not care?’” they asked accusingly (verse 38). Jesus rebuked the storm, and the sea became perfectly calm. 

Then he turned to them and said, “‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” (verse 40). Their biggest problem was not the storm. They had forgotten who Jesus was and that he was with them, nearby, in the same boat. As our granddaughter read from her storybook this morning: perhaps trials come so we can learn that our problems are too big for us, but not for our God. Storms become an opportunity for faith to grow. 

Generally it’s not easy in our busyness to wait upon the Lord. But during these times of shutdowns and sheltering in place, this could be the perfect time to wait before the Lord. 

C. S. Lewis in Reflections on the Psalms starts with a discussion on justice. In Western Christian culture, judgment creates a fear of failure, both of commission and omission. We all stand in need of mercy. Lewis introduces another concept of justice, promoted in Jewish culture, which corrects injustice and restores to the oppressed that which is rightfully theirs. 

This type of justice we can look forward to, until Christ turns it all around. Lewis asks, have we been fair in all of our dealings “with employers and employees, with husband or wife, with parents and children, in quarrels and collaborations”? Have we always attained honesty and fairness, let alone generosity? If we think we have, we must be concerned about self-righteousness or self-serving. Have we done our fair share? Or - in our anxiety and fear - have we hoarded resources (toilet paper and bread), overreacted to threats, refused to extend a helping hand, or stopped being friendly? 

In this time of waiting, let us trust God to show us our own injustice and his righteousness. As we ask for forgiveness, we begin to find freedom from fear. Then we become partners with him as deliverers of justice. 

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