Keep calm and …
* Look to the Lord.
* Look after one another.
* Look out for your neighbours in need.
In an extraordinary time here are three things that we can all do that I believe we can do to help us through this present crisis.
These are three things that the Scriptures encourage us to do at all times – but it is in these moments that the most important things come into sharp focus.
Each of them has to do with “looking”. It is where we look that is so important. The things that we focus our attention on will in turn fill our hearts and minds and determine how we feel, act and respond.
So the first thing we should remember is ….
- To keep calm and look to the Lord.
You have all seen those regal mugs that tell us to …
“Keep calm and plant a geranium”
“Keep calm and buy a labrador”.
As Christians are called to keep calm and look to Christ,
“the author and finisher of our faith”.
Hebrews 12:2 speaks of …
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus went through it all for us and he conquered. He is the Source of all authority and hope and power.
He will see us through to the end – perfecting our faith in Himself through His power (Hebrews 1:3) and sustaining us through our trials. He is El Shaddai – God Almighty, come down among (John 1:14) to bear our sins and burdens and defeat all of God’s enemies and ours – sin, death, hell, sickness and the Devil.
Even if we should die – and all Christians do die one day, friends – we have everlasting life through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
But let us pray God’s mercy and protection over our whole church, our families, our communities – and indeed the world.
God is the Everlasting Rock. He is our “refuge and strength – an ever present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Our promise last Sunday was Isaiah 26:3
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
When we look to our ever present Saviour Jesus, he keeps us calm, confident and secure in every storm.
- Look after one another.
One sure way to get through difficult times and deal better with anxious thoughts is to get our minds off our selves and focus on things external to ourselves that provide with a sense of perspective.
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus” means meditating on God – his goodness, love, mercy, greatness, eternity etc.
As we read the words of Jesus in Scripture over and over – (e.g. Matthew 6:25-34 “Do not worry …”) we begin to see things as God sees them and we realise God is faithful and he has our back. And when we know we are secure in our relationship with God, we can then minister to others.
God’s Word to us in Philippians 2:4-11 is so helpful at this time:
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
When we obey God’s instruction book and think about and respond to the needs of others, we find very quickly that we forget entirely about our own problems.
Someone asked the great evangelist of 1700s, John Wesley,
how his soul was getting on.
Wesley replied that he had forgotten that he had one.
In other words, Wesley made himself so busy in the service of God and caring for others, he had entirely lost sight of his own needs.
It is not that we don’t have needs – nor that we should deny we have them – but that in caring for others, God promises to supply the things that we ourselves lack.
The Bible tells to “cast our cares on the Lord, because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7
One way we can show by faith that we have done this, is by seeking to care for others. When we do this, we find that God not only meets the needs of others, but ours are taken care of as well!
How can we do this in church?
At the present time, simple things like a phone call to someone in church can make all the difference. If everyone looks out for everyone else in this way, then the whole body works together to care for each other.
3. Look out for your neighbours in need.
Every day, I keep hearing very heart-warming stories of people helping others in practical and spontaneous ways.
The other day at the service station I asked the the lady behind the counter if she was “feeling healthy”! She said she was “feeling happy” , and she shared the following story:
She had gone to the supermarket to buy some toilet paper to find the shelf empty: a common experience now. Then a couple who had just purchased some simply gave her half of the toilet paper they had just purchased.
Someone from church yesterday shared a story about how they had purchased something for an elderly person, because of the “1 item” limit. The older person had asked to buy 2 of something they needed and was not allowed to do so. The person from our church put it on their own bill and gave it to the older person. In other words, they “looked out for the interests of others”. Praise God! That is Christian love in action.
There are probably lots of ways we can practice this kind of Christian love and still keep the government’s advice about “social distancing” and “hand hygiene”.
We can all ask our neighbours over the fence (or give them a call) and ask if they need anything.
If we are concerned about close contact for any reason (e.g. because they are elderly or have an existing medical condition) then we can leave things they need on the doorstep. We just need to be sure we are well ourselves. Otherwise our kindness will not be kindness and handling things and passing them on could spread germs to others. That is just about being wise, not fearful.
The Bible tells us to …
“Love your neighbour as yourself …”
Mark 12:31 (Leviticus 19:18)
As Christians, we should see the government’s instructions about hygiene and social distancing not as an annoying imposition on our freedoms, but as a way of “loving our neighbour” and “looking out for the interests of other”.
Yvette found this quote by Martin Luther. Though 500 years old, it is remarkably remarkably relevant:
In other words, we should be mindful of our own health (but not just for our own sake, but for the good of all), maintain the best practices (as Luther did in his own day) and pray and exercise wisdom as we care for others.
If we can meet a need let’s do so. But if we can, we should avoid doing anything that will make it more likely for this virus to spread to others. If we follow the PM’s instructions, we are acting not only wisely, but we demonstrate to others that kind of Christian meekness that both Jesus (Matthew 22:21) and his apostles (Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-17) held up as as a testimony of our faith in the Kingship of God.
Finally, we can pray and rejoice.
The Bible says to …
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
and also to …
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
We can pray for each other, the community and the world at this time to express our trust in God and as an expression of Christian care for others (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
We can believe the Word of God that “in all things God works for the good of the those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)
I believe God will bring much good out of all this for his glory and for the good of all. God’s desire is that people should come to know the saving power of Jesus. (1 Timothy 2: 3-6).
Be encouraged. God is King.