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Where Is Christ Community Most Vulnerable in 2021? (Or: What Muskoxen Can Teach Us About Spiritual Warfare)

Where Is Christ Community Most Vulnerable in 2021? (Or: What Muskoxen Can Teach Us About Spiritual Warfare)

The local church’s greatest vulnerability is the same as the greatest vulnerability of musk oxen in the Arctic. What? Stay with me. Recently my kids and I watched the National Geographic special The Kingdom of the White Wolf. It follows a pack of white wolves as they struggle to survive in the harsh arctic wilderness.

One of the most powerful scenes is the wolves’ attempt
to hunt a herd of musk oxen. At the first sign of the wolves, the musk oxen immediately form what is called a
rosette — a defensive circle.
This rosette formation is impossible for the wolves to defeat. Each musk ox weighs as much as 10 wolves. On every side, all the wolves see are massive heads studded with sharp horns. 

The wolves only have one strategy to defeat this impenetrable formation: fear and stampede.  As long as the oxen stand firm together the wolves are helpless. The only way the wolves get a meal is if they stir up enough fear to start a stampede. Fear fragments the herd and causes chaos. As soon as the fear takes over, disunity sets in, panic grows, the herd divides, and the wolves eat.

Friends, our greatest threat in 2021 is disunity fueled by fear. When the church stands together in unity it is an impenetrable fortress against the Evil One. But the moment we allow disunity to creep in, we are deeply vulnerable. 

There are only two options for us this year: fall apart or stand together. 

Option 1: Fall apart in division
Let’s look at the first option: fall apart in division. This is Satan’s goal. He is a roaring lion looking for church communities to destroy (1 Peter 5:8). He knows his only chance to feast on the vulnerable of the church is to cause disunity fueled by fear and suspicion.

The church has always faced challenges of division — over which teachers and preachers they like best (1 Corinthians 1:10-17), over culture, ethnicity, theology and missiology (Acts 15:1-41), and over interpersonal conflicts (Philippians 4:1-3) — to give just a few biblical examples. And this past year we could add to the list: masks, elections, economics, vaccines, and whether baby Yoda eating those eggs was adorable or horrible!

This past year I have watched  disunity fueled by fear threaten the mission and witness of the church at large, and yes, even at times threaten Christ Community. 

How do we respond to this threat? How to keep from succumbing to fragmentation and chaos? How do we stop the lion? 

Option 2: Stand together in unity
We stop the lion the same way the musk oxen stop the wolves. We stand together in unity. Not in a diversity-erasing uniformity. No. We stand together in a division-healing, enemy-reconciling love. Listen to these words from the Apostle Paul who is calling the Ephesians (and us!) back to ourselves, back to the unity we have in Jesus because of the cross:

Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1–6 CSB 2017)

That gospel oneness then empowers us to stand together against evil. Look at what Paul writes later in Ephesians chapter six. Note that Paul is addressing the church as a whole, not just speaking to an individual. The commands are plural

Finally, (you all) be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. (You all) Put on the full armor of God so that you (all) can STAND against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. For this reason (you all) take up the full armor of God, so that you (all) may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your  STAND. (You all) STAND, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:10–15 CSB 2017)

So how do we stand together in 2021? I believe there are three key ways. We stand together in… 

  • Humble dependence. Standing together begins by recognizing we need one another. As long as we live life as though we don’t need one another, that we are fine on our own, disunity will triumph every time. Unity is based on a shared identity with Jesus born of a humility that recognizes our deep need for Him and one another.
  • Spirit-empowered effort. Standing together is not passive. Several years ago I got a standing desk, which I love! But you quickly realize that using a standing desk takes effort — a lot of effort. Sitting is passive. There’s a reason Paul doesn’t say, “Sit, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist…” Standing takes work. Unity takes effort. A lot of effort! Paul tells us to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” The good news is this effort is empowered by the Spirit whose fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
  • Patient persistence. Time is on our side. The victory has been secured. The enemy is doomed. The wolves will leave every time if the musk oxen will just wait, just stand firm together. It is when in impatience and fear the herd loses its steadfastness that the stampede starts. The oxen are so much more powerful than the wolves if they stand together and don’t give in. So are we. 

Bottomline: musk oxen fight and win by standing firm and so do we. So, Christ Community, in 2021 let these words of blessing from Romans 15 be our prayer for the church:

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6 ESV)

Happy New Year, brothers and sisters! Let’s be like the musk oxen and stand together.

“I don’t want to go to heaven!”

“I don’t want to go to heaven!”

How could anyone not want to go to heaven? That was the question blaring in my mind as I sat across from a five year old girl that morning in Sunday school. When I was in middle school, I volunteered in the five year old Sunday school classroom. I don’t remember much about that class, but I do remember that day when the pastor’s daughter declared loudly and emphatically that she did not want to go to heaven. 

When I asked her why, she said something about being bored and not liking having to go to church all the time. I tried talking her into the idea of liking heaven. But I found myself at a little bit of a loss to say anything more substantive than heaven was better than the alternative and surely it would be better than she thought. I don’t think I convinced her.

I continued to think about that conversation for a long time. Of course wanting to go to heaven was “the right answer,” but if I was honest with myself I had the same thought as that five year old: What if heaven was boring? There is so much I want to do here and now. For many of us I suspect this Far Side cartoon captures our expectations about heaven pretty well:

But maybe we haven’t been willing to admit to ourselves that we just aren’t that excited about heaven. I guess kids—and Gary Larson—are just most honest about that sort of stuff than a lot of adults. 

It wasn’t until over a decade later that my imagination for “heaven” was rescued from the eneminc “…Wish I’d brought a magazine” caricature to the full-blood biblical vision of the New Heavens and New Earth. Two things happened. First, I was utterly captivated by N.T. Wright’s book Surprised by Hope. Wright helped me at last see what was in the Bible rather than just importing vague ideas I picked up from pop culture, classic art, and homespun theology. Second, I took a class on C.S. Lewis from professor Christopher Mitchell. I’d never met someone who had thought with such detail and clarity about the reality of the New Heavens and New Earth—or who lived with such contagious anticipation of them.

This Advent season,  we are going to take an imagination-baptising look at what the Bible promises about heaven. We’ll address questions like…

  • What will heaven be like?
  • Will I have a body? What will it be like?
  • Will I know people in heaven?
  • Where is heaven?
  • Why believe in heaven?
  • Is believing in heaven escapist? Does it distract us from the work of here and now?

…and many more. 

From the earliest days of the Christian church, Advent has been a season of waiting and preparation. It was a time to prepare for the celebration of Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ first coming. Now kids make paper chains counting down the days until they can open the presents under the tree, and we mark the time with Advent calendars. 

It is also a time to remember and look forward to Jesus’ promise that He would come again and make all things new, to unite heaven and earth. But what is heaven? And when we wait for heaven, just what exactly are we waiting for? 

This Advent season let’s look together  at what the Bible says about heaven, about what we are waiting for.

Resources:

 

Better to Read the Bible Every Day than Every Year

Better to Read the Bible Every Day than Every Year

Have you ever attempted to read the entire Bible in a year? There are lots of great plans out there that can help you do this. Two of my favorites are the Read Scripture plan from The Bible Project and the Robert Murray M’Cheyne plan. 

If you’ve never read the entire Bible before, it’s a great thing to do. We believe that ALL of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are “God-breathed,” inspired by the Holy Spirit. If you haven’t had the joy reading all those God-breathed words at some point in your life, you’re missing out.

However, sometimes attempts to read the Bible in 365 days leave us feeling hurried in our reading or frustrated when we fall behind. 

This is why it is better to read the Bible every day than every year. Reading the Bible in a year is a goal. Reading the Bible every day is a habit

In the end, our habits shape us more than our goals. Indeed, it is our habits that ultimately enable and empower us to reach our goals. This is how James Clear, author of Atomic Habits and one of the best contemporary writers on the topic of habits, puts it:

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there. This year, spend less time focusing on outcomes and more time focusing on the habits that precede the results. 

What if this year you gave your greatest energy not to getting through the entire Bible, but in establishing a habit, a system, a routine of reading the Bible every day? No matter what. Come hell or high water. (Do people still use that expression?) You read the Bible every day. 

The Bible is mediation literature. Read it every day, and soak in it. Reflect on Psalm 1. 

1 How happy is the one who does not

walk in the advice of the wicked

or stand in the pathway with sinners

or sit in the company of mockers!

2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,

and he meditates on it day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams

that bears its fruit in its season

and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers.

4 The wicked are not like this;

instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand up in the judgment,

nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

Be like a tree this year—read the Bible every day—see how long you can keep the streak going. Worry less about completing a certain amount of reading. Instead, focus on establishing the habit of reading. 

If you happen to read the Bible in a year because you installed the habit of reading the Bible every day, that’s wonderful. But even if you don’t read the whole Bible this year, I can promise you that if you read it everyday—with a posture of seeking to know, love, and obey Jesus—your life will change. 

The change will probably be imperceptible at first. But it will happen. And you will find deeper joy as the roots of your life soak up the nurshing, refreshing, fruit-enabling waters of the Word. 

Take the Next Step

If you’re looking to start this habit but don’t know where to start in your Bible or what to read each day, Christ Community’s Open Here reading plan is a great place to start. It gives you a short passage to read each day that relates to the current sermon series.

A Day of Prayer and Fasting – Contending for Restoration

A Day of Prayer and Fasting – Contending for Restoration

Introduction

Imagine you’re gathered with friends—maybe your community group or Bible study group. You are talking about spiritual disciples—prayer, Bible study, generosity, stuff like that—and then someone says But what about fasting? Is that something gospel Christians should do? Isn’t fasting just a way of trying to earn favor with God? Isn’t fasting more of a Catholic or Muslim thing that evangelical Christians should stay away from?”

How would you respond? Maybe you’ve thought those same things and had those same questions. I have, so I decided to find some answers and perspective. 

First let’s consider why Christians fast, and then how Christians fast. (Note: If you’re already convinced of the why of fasting, feel free to skip down to the how section.)

Why fast?

First, the why—why specifically would or should a Christian fast? And also what do we mean by “fasting”? 

It has become common to use the language of fasting to talk about taking a break from Facebook or Netflix or even just a certain type of food (i.e., I’m fasting from chocolate or beer). But this confuses the broader (and very important) category of “abstaining” (from Netflix, spending, sex, beer, etc.) with a very specific type of abstaining, namely, abstaining from eating.

Historically (and medically) the language of fasting means to abstain from eating any food for a period of time. And by that definition you already fast everyday—at night while you are asleep. (Unless you’re a sleepwalker who also sleep-eats—which is a real thing!) So when we talk about fasting here, we are specifically talking about abstaining from all food for a period of time.

So that’s what we mean by fasting. But why would a Christian do it? People from different religions and cultures throughout history have fasted. Even today there is an increasingly popular movement of fasting for the many health benefits it provides. However, are there specifically Christian reasons to fast (or not fast)? 

Going back to the case study we began with, someone might argue that fasting for health reasons is fine but fasting as part of how a person relates to God is where the questions arise. 

In light of that, what might be the rationale not to fast? I think there are two main reasons why someone should not fast. First, medical reasons. If you have health issues (e.g., uncontrolled diabetes) that would make it dangerous to your health, you shouldn’t fast. If you’re battling an eating disorder, you shouldn’t fast. If you’re a child who is growing and developing, fasting isn’t for you either. Likewise women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t fast. 

Second, there are religious reasons not to fast. If you view fasting as a way of “earning” God’s favor or as a way of forcing or compelling God to do something for you—God, I’ve done this (fasted) for you, now you must do this for me (heal me, get me a job)—then you shouldn’t fast.    

But there are good, biblical, Christian reasons to fast (beyond the health benefits). Here are my top three: Jesus’ example, Jesus teaching, the church’s witness.

Jesus’ Example
As disciples, apprentices, and learners of Jesus who have taken on His yoke (Matthew 11:28-30), we seek to follow our Master’s pattern of life. And Jesus’ pattern of life included prayer, solitude, self-emptying service, and also fasting. Specifically, we see Jesus fasting in the wilderness for forty days while He is tempted by the Evil One (Matthew 4 and Luke 4). 

But one might rightly respond that Jesus did lots of things—raising the Lazarus from the dead, dying on the cross for the sins of all humanity—that I’m not supposed to replicate in my own life. Isn’t His fasting (including from water!) in the wilderness for forty days one of those things? It’s true that a forty day absolute fast (i.e., no food or water) required miraculous intervention. 

And if all we had was this one example of Jesus’ forty day absolute fast, we would probably be right to conclude that fasting was more like dying on the cross for the sins of all humanity than praying or solitude. But we don’t just have Jesus’ example. We also have His teaching.

Jesus Teaching
There are two key passages in which Jesus teaches about fasting. The first is in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:1-18. Here Jesus talks about giving, praying, and fasting, and how His followers are to practice these things but do so differently than the “hypocrites.”  

Each section opens with when you give, when you pray, when you fast—not if. Jesus seems to assume His followers will give, pray, and fast. What they should not do is practice those things to be seen and admired by other people. Rather, they should do them for the joy and delight of the Father who sees and rewards what is done in “secret.”

The other key passage is Luke 5:33-35. Here Jesus is responding to a question about why His followers don’t fast. Here’s the conversation:

33 They [the Pharisees and the teachers of the law] said to him [Jesus], “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” 34 Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”

The key is verse 35. Jesus’ disciple feasted then because Jesus the bridegroom, the king, was with them. But when He is taken away, then they will fast. Darrell Bock, perhaps one of today’s foremost scholars on the Gospel of Luke explains:

Jesus’ point is that fasting will again become appropriate and an option in the intermediate period [after His death, resurrection, and ascension], as the church longs for the return and final fulfillment. The tone is important. Jesus allows the return of fasting but he does not regulate it or make it a test of spirituality. The church may have a variety in practice without requiring conformity (Bock, Luke, vol. 1, 518).

To this, John Piper is in his fantastic book on fasting, A Hunger for God, adds this insight:

It is true that Jesus has given the Holy Spirit in his absence, and that the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16:7; 2 Corinthians 3:17). So in a profound and wonderful sense Jesus is still with us…. Nevertheless, there is a greater degree of intimacy that we will enjoy with Christ in heaven when this age is over. So in another sense Christ is not with us, but away from us…. In other words, in this age there is an ache inside every Christian that Jesus is not here as fully and intimately and as powerfully and as gloriously as we want him to be. We hunger for so much more. That is why we fast.

So Jesus’ example and teaching provide Christians with good reasons to fast, and finally, we also have the church’s witness.

The church’s witness
Just as Jesus said they would after His death, resurrection, and accession, the church adopted the practice of fasting. We see a key example in Acts 13. This example is particularly significant because of where it occurs and who participates. 

Acts 13 opens with the commissioning of Paul and Barnabus as they begin a venture to expand communities of Jesus followers among non-Jewish peoples in the Roman Empire. Already the church in Antioch, where this episode takes place, is a multiethnic church composed of Jews and non-Jews. 

This is significant for many reasons, but for our questions about fasting it is significant because it shows that fasting was not just something practiced only by Jewish Christians. Here’s the passage:

Acts 13:1   Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

This multiethnic community included fasting as part of their practice of prayer and worship. Scholars point out that the they in this passage likely refers not just to those individuals named but to the whole church. The Apostle Paul also describes his own experience with fasting in 2 Corinthians 6:5 and 11:27.  

But a thoughtful reader of the Scriptures might ask about Colossians 2:20-23. Is Paul prohibiting fasting?

20   If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (2:20-23)

John Piper’s response is worth reading at length. In response to questions about Colossians he writes this:

Christian fasting is not self-wrought discipline that tries to deserve more from God. It is a hunger for God awakened by the taste of God freely given in the gospel…. 

Fasting is not a no to the goodness of food or the generosity of God in providing it. Rather, it is a way of saying, from time to time, that having more of the Giver surpasses having the gift…. Christian fasting is the effect of what Christ has already done for us and in us. It is not our feat, but the Spirit’s fruit. Recall that the last-mentioned fruit of the Spirit is “self-control” (Galatians 5:23). 

[The Apostle Paul directs our] …attention toward fasting and numerous other kinds of self-denial—not as meritorious religious rituals, and not as an end in themselves, but as a weapon in the fight of faith… (A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer, 45-46).

Christians fast not to get love from God but because they know they are loved by God. They fast not to atone for their sins but to enjoy more deeply the presence of the One who has forgiven them.

That’s the why of Christian fasting. But what about the how?

How to fast

At one level the how of fasting is painfully simple: don’t eat food. Congratulations! You’ve fasted. But the trouble we have in the how is less with the simple part and more with the painful part. What do I do when I start to feel hangry? Am I supposed to be miserable when I’m doing this? 

Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s not good. I’ve never found financial generosity to be particularly easy. But it is good. And I do find joy in it. Likewise, I’ve never found fasting to be easy, but I have found joy in it. 

Okay. So we shouldn’t expect fasting to be easy, but it also shouldn’t be agony. The point is not to cause ourselves suffering but to demonstrate with our actions that God is even more important to us than food. That we trust in Him more than we trust in food. Just like our financial generosity also is a way of demonstrating our trust in God that He will provide for us. (Isn’t it interesting that “dough” is a figure of speech we use to talk about food and money. Just saying…) 

But there is something that makes fasting particularly difficult for us today, and that is the type and amount of food we eat. Most of us tend to eat soon after we wake up and then eat and snack until we go to bed. Also the food that we eat and snack on tends to be high in sugar and carbohydrates. Both of those things—constant eating throughout the day and the high sugar/carb content of the food we eat—make fasting harder than it needs to be. 

Additionally, because we rarely experience the sensation of hunger without immediately grabbing a granola bar or banana to alleviate it, we tend to think that that hunger will just get worse and worse until we collapse and die. But hunger doesn’t work like that. And it is as much a physiological reality as a physical one. 

We get hungry at certain times of day because we always eat at certain times of day. If we are able to move through those times of day without eating, the hunger doesn’t keep building and building. It eventually subsides (if even it doesn’t totally disappear) until the next meal/snack time. In that way hunger is more like a tide that comes in and then goes out again, rather than a flood that just keeps rising and rising until you drown.  

So what’s the best way to begin fasting if you’ve never done it before? I would suggest you start by skipping either breakfast or dinner. When you skip one of those meals and combine that with time you are asleep it is (relatively) easy to stack-up 16+ hours of fasting. For example, if you finished your dinner at 6:30 PM on Wednesday evening and didn’t eat again until noon on Thursday you will have fasted for 17.5 hours. Or if you finished lunch on Wednesday at 12:30 PM and didn’t eat again until 8:00 AM on Thursday, you will have fasted 19.5 hours. 

I’ve found personally that skipping breakfast is easier for me then skipping dinner. But experiment and find out what works best for you. Once you have some experience with those 16-19 hours fasts, you can try a longer fast of 24 or 36 hours. Jay Richard’s book Eat, Fast, Feast: Heal Your Body While Feeding Your Soul—A Christian Guide to Fasting is the most helpful resource I’ve found in developing a physically sustainable pattern of fasting.

One other question you may have is can I or should I tell others that I am fasting? We struggle with this one because of Jesus teaching on secrecy in the Sermon on the Mount. It is important to remember that there Jesus was combating a motive of being seen and praised by others. The reality is that with close friends and family members, you’ll need to tell them your fasting so that when you don’t sit down to dinner or breakfast they understand why. That’s okay. Tell them. Just don’t do it out of pride or to get them to think more highly of you.

My hope is that you will find a new freedom, joy, and intimacy with Jesus in the practice of fasting. I certainly have. Below are few resources that have helped me on my journey with food and fasting.

Resources

Best overall book on fasting

 

Best book on biblical basis for and spiritual benefits of fasting: 

 

Best book the on medical and science basis for fasting: 

 

Best on getting a handle on the power of food in our lives:

Family Guide to Prayer and Fasting (Christ Community Church):

  • Suggestions and guides on safe ways to help children understand fasting. –  HANDOUT
Is COVID-19 Actually Like the Atomic Bomb? 

Is COVID-19 Actually Like the Atomic Bomb? 

Since the coronavirus pandemic began unfolding, many have—rightly!—pointed to and drawn parallels between our moment and the moment C. S. Lewis addresses in his fantastic essay “On Living in an Atomic Age.” In that piece Lewis offers this wisdom:

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds. (“On Living in an Atomic Age” in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays)

But is the coronavirus actually like the atomic bomb? Yes and no.

First, the yes. Lewis’ point in the essay is that we will all face death at some point by bomb or microbe. And in this way our current moment with the coronavirus is no different than Lewis’ with the atomic bomb. Whether by bomb, virus, car accident, cancer, or a quiet death in our sleep at “a ripe old age”, we are dust and to dust we shall return.

However, there is one key way in which the coronavirus threat and the threat of nuclear annihilation are VERY different. 

In 1948 when Lewis wrote his essay—and for us still today—there is precious little that you and I can do directly with our daily actions to keep a nuclear weapon from unleashing mass destruction. So in light of the nuclear threat we simply must live life as usual—keep calm and carry on. There is no use huddling in a bunker refusing to go to the movies or the office or a concert or church.

But this is where the coronavirus threat is dramatically and radically different from the nuclear threat. What you and I do with our daily actions makes ALL the difference in the world to the severity of the threat. 

Handwashing will not stop an atomic bomb, but it has stopped and will help stop the coronavirus. Social distancing won’t prevent a rogue terrorist from detonating a dirty bomb. But social distancing can slow the spread of the virus resulting directly in lives being saved—in particular the lives of the most vulnerable. 

So, yes, we must keep doing “sensible and human things” but in a way that loves our neighbors well. We keep social distance not out of fear but out of love. Your actions. My actions. Make a difference. Love one another well. 

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NIV) Now I never imagined that loving my friends and neighbors would someday look like social distancing. 

I never imagined a moment where loving my neighbors would look like not visiting them in the hospital. I never imagined that laying down my life would mean not hugging friends when I see them in the grocery store. Or that neighborly love would look like keeping six feet of distance between me and my neighbors when we meet on the sidewalk. 

But Jesus did. This moment is not a surprise to Him. He is our ruling, reigning and present King—God with us. And His presence bridges the social distance. He fills gaps between us with His love and presence.