There is no doubt that shared experiences bring people together or simply give people a reason for connection. A lot of that isn’t very deep: three co-workers who love a certain show, and look forward to chatting each other up the next day; the men in our GRC staff enjoying Monday morning banter about games during the football season (the ladies are welcome to join in but for some reason, they never do); the fellow-foodie who would especially appreciate hearing about the new restaurant you tried out over the weekend.
You know who shares your preferences, style, and fan-dom. That connection is mutually encouraging; it’s an enjoyable part of a relationship.
We don’t need to wonder who has shared the life-upending experiences of the last 6 weeks. We’re ALL in this together. We ALL know the challenges of grocery shopping, working or schooling from home, reading the news, canceling plans, fearing for the elderly and other vulnerable groups. And that brings a measure of “unity” that’s pretty unique, especially if you have friends or family overseas, who are subject to different governments, cultures, lifestyles. The SAME reality is everywhere!
But church – and here I’m specifically addressing followers of Christ, not just here at GRC – isn’t this the case ALL the time? Whether our life/work/school/activities are “normal” or extraordinary, we share a life-defining, all-encompassing, experience, and foundation that brings deepest, richest, longest-lasting unity IN CHRIST? We are those who know we were dead, but God, because of his mercy, made us alive WITH CHRIST! We are those in whom the Spirit of God has come to reside! We are those whose hope is not ultimately in a renewed economy, or avoidance of death, or a return to a social life. No, our hope – confident, eternity-defining, God-promised hope – is in the truth of the King who is making all things new; who will resurrect his people; and will bring us into the New Heavens and the New Earth, in his presence. Yankee fans share a passion; lovers of sushi (or insert favorite cuisine) share a passion; devotees of Downton Abbey can “walk” through the mansion together. But all of that is passing, and some of it is downright trivial (Downton, for example )
Shouldn’t the body of Christ, the church of Jesus Christ, always and everywhere enjoy that unity – for good reasons, not for restrictive, shared-life-under-lockdown reasons? Shouldn’t Christians naturally be overflowing to one another, and those who don’t believe in Jesus, this shared life of sinners forgiven by grace? Slaves to sin, now set free? Are we not people receiving, and reveling in, the Word of God that reveals to us the wonder of our Creator and King, the love of the Father, the most dramatic rescue plan of the Trinity accomplishing our salvation?
Don’t wait for life to return to “normal.” Don’t let the extent of commonly-experienced life, be COVID/quarantine/Work-from-Home talk. And if you have nothing to “share” with other Christians, you need to dip that cup into the fountain of grace, to scoop up some living water, to eat of the Bread of Life. You do that by cultivating intimacy with God in prayer (listen to Steve Sage’s sermon from last Sunday) and by opening His Word and chewing on these words that lead to life! And certainly, a decision to enter into or continue to join in spiritual community (Growth Group, Bible Study, morning devotional, Kingdom Prayer) is a great aid and an ongoing encouragement toward those ends.
People of God, we ALWAYS have deepest-shared life to revel in together!
Grace be with you,
Peter Wang is the Senior Pastor.