We went to church on Sunday. The night had been cold, very cold, and there was sufficient ice on the road that we were glad that we had taken the all wheel drive car. When we parked there were very few cars. We thought the service would be just over the 100 people who had been allowed to attend ticket only services previously.
The church was full.
The sermon was from Acts 4: Peter and John had been beaten by the Jewish council of elders, then released, and the prayed for boldness, during which the building shook and the spirit of God descended. There is a feeling within the leadership that this lockdown has been the birthing of a new generation, an new revival.
I Don't know if I am correct by the current demonstrations and riots are akin to the progressive inter-sectional movement going all in. They have failed on every front so let us have a cultural revolution, criticism those who have gone before, and hound all defenders of truth, beauty and justice away. There are those blaming the riots on Christ.
What we need to be is bold: to not be ashamed of the gospel, and to be confident that God will reign. This is a season. It will burn out. The regulation of the church has been like fertilizer: active persecution will be like putting the church in a hothouse. It will grow, and the nations will then tremble.
Provided we do as Christ calls us. Which includes not being ruled by fear.
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea towards the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
10 And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’”
3 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's co-worker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labour would be in vain.
The current circumstances are difficult for some and bleak for many. There are people made redundant, there are businesses failing, and there is a chance that the virus will re-enter New Zealand if our borders are opened -- which the government is being pressured to do, for one reason (Avatar film crew) or another(relatives rejoining families). There are regulations around quarantine. If we use these we have no need to fear the virus within New Zealand. We can rebuild our businesses and economy: as the world is loudly having an attack of economic gloom, this would be a challenge for any government.
If we don't have these rules in place we have every reason to fear the virus returning. I believe we should not relax such things until after this winter, for the hospitals will be full soon as the old get ill and the young break things on ski slopes.
The same thing applies to the church. We have but one thing, and that is to preach the gospel of Christ to all men. There are those who say we should do good, and expect perfection from all. We do not (indeed, those who criticize the faith don't understand Christ nor how faith works out). We preach Christ and him alone.
But if we move from the will of God, we will be one with the Shakers. The spirit of God will leave, and our effort will be a historical footnote.
Expect disapproval. Expect difficult times. Then Pray, and do what you have been called to.
God will take care of the results.