The church has been a stable influence on culture down through the ages. To be clear, the church has changed in traditions and in externals, but her mission has remained the same! We still proclaim a risen Lord. We still proclaim love for God and love for our neighbors as ourselves. We still gather together and hear from the same Word. We still partake of communion together. We still lift up our voices to the Lord in the gathering.
But I would suggest that there has been a consistent threat to individual churches and church members that remains pretty consistent down through the ages. The threat takes the form of a myopic view that can easily creep in. If we are not careful we will wake up one morning unable to read the Bible because our eyes have been focusing too much closer on the newspaper. What I mean by the metaphor is that it is absolutely possible to get too caught up in current events!
First it was lockdowns, then it was masks, then it was politics and a very strongly contested election, then it was whether or not church should continue to meet during the second wave, and soon it will be deep divisions over vaccinations. A season like 2020 is a season where the risk comes close to home! We are at a time where wave after cultural wave will seek to batter the church . . . (and by church I mean real people with real fears, and real lives, and real needs).
We need to allow the promises of Christ to shape our understanding of our present and future. We can rest in the fact that Jesus Christ Himself says “that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church.” And far from a call to apathy, this is a call to connect with our culture in strength, joy, and hope. We are not those who are tossed to and fro by every headline and every threat.
We are salt, we are light! We show the way to peace and hope through Christ. And we did so through the persecutions under Nero. We did so through dark ages. We shined the light through the reformation. And in civil wars, and bubonic plagues, and the Spanish flu.
We have a history of God-given stability. And I am encouraging the church to take hope. We have an ongoing mission now. Stay salty church! And be the light you have been called to be! Stand firm in hope! And let the world see our trust in our Savior!