I recently had the pleasure and privilege of facilitating the CCF Spring Women’s Bible study with Linda Wilson. For nine weeks, with Jen Wilkin as our guide, we studied the book of 1 Peter, A Living Hope in Christ. Our group met initially at the church but ended up on ZOOM because of the COVID19 shelter in place order. As the weeks went by, we were amazed at how relevant Peter’s message to the new converts in Asia Minor being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ was to our situation.
Peter reminded the recipients of his message that there is strength in community. Christ followers are not only members of a global church, they are family. One thing I have noticed after being home since the end of February, is that I REALLY MISS in person contact with others. I miss seeing my neighbors, who have taken refuge in their apartments. I miss interacting with strangers when I go shopping. Everyone avoids getting close and even talking with each other. I miss eating out with my friends. I miss having my small group meet in my home. I miss corporate praise and worship and catching up with my brothers and sisters in Christ at church. I miss teaching my students in person. While I am thankful for God’s gift of technology that makes video conferencing possible, it is just not the same. I realize that I have taken for granted the human beings in my life. The scriptures exhorting us to love one another have taken on a new deeper meaning for me:
- Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, (1 Peter 1:22)
- Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
- This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12)
- Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)
The novel coronavirus pandemic reminded me of Hebrews 12:26-27 – “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken – that is, created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Created things are transitory – they don’t last. Our hearts, minds and souls need to be focused on that which is imperishable and eternal. God’s Word exhorts us to “seek the things that are above” (Colossians 3:1) and to “lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-21). What can I take with me when I go home to heaven? My relationship with God, my relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ and my godly character. Does that realization cause me to rethink my priorities? You bet! Social distancing has made me realize how much I value the people God has placed in my life and that I need to let them know, not occasionally, but consistently, how much I love them and how irreplaceable they are.
Loving one another, as God loves us, sets us apart as Christ followers and enables us to be “overcomers” (1 John 5:4-5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world, And this is the victory that have overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?) and“more than conquerors” (Romans 8:35.37 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.) We emerge from adversity stronger, wiser, and more resilient. We are better together.