“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” – Psalm 27:13-14 ESV
There is a scene in the movie, Prince Caspian that strikes fear in me every time I see it. It occurs when the discussion of what course of action should be taken by those who follow Aslan. King Peter speaks, full of selfish pride, “I think we’ve waited for Aslan long enough!” He’s tired of waiting and ready to do something, anything, to get out of their hiding place and dare I say it, “get back to normal”?
We, those who follow King Jesus, are feeling much like King Peter, and rightfully so. These last weeks of dealing with COVID-19 have been for some, a nuisance, and for others, grief inducing and life-altering. Where I live, there has not been a lot of sickness, but in two neighboring counties hundreds have been affected and Nashville, TN and Southaven, MS (cities in which my family formerly lived) have had many more cases than that.
Speaking of Nashville and Southaven, both the churches I was called to help lead, as well as FBC Sparta, where I currently serve, have all experienced tension (mostly in the past) about preference in the “style” of worship music that the church used in their weekly worship gatherings. I don’t want to go too far down this rabbit hole, but I see a connection between “my worship style” and the response of our hearts to this crisis. If there is one thing that’s for certain in our very individualized society, it’s that everyone has a couple opinions, and as one comedian said, they’re like armpits…sometimes they stink. 😉 I see this all the time when it comes to music in the Church. Let’s face it, any one of us can listen to whatever music we want, whenever we want, on our computers, smartphones and devices. Therefore, the Sunday worship gathering of your local church will never be exactly “my worship style” and it shouldn’t be. It’s not about you. It’s about God’s people gathering TOGETHER to make much of Jesus and celebrate Him who has saved a diverse group of sinners like us and made us into His people by grace. So when we come together to worship Jesus corporately, we must check our preferences at the door in order to give honor to Jesus and also to prefer our brothers and sisters. Remember those are the two greatest commandments: to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-40).
So what does this have to do with your churches’ response to the current crisis? All you have to do is ask 3 people their opinion about how your church should maneuver these days of distancing and fear to realize that everyone has an opinion. That’s not wrong. Just like we tend to listen to different music, we also look to different voices to inform ourselves. Additionally, we each have a way we tend to respond, even before we have information. Some of us tend to move slowly. Some of us tend to jump into things quickly. Some love the newest innovations and some hate them. Some struggle with fear. Others struggle with false confidence in the flesh. So what do we do?
First, wait on the Lord. Before those of you who are action-oriented click off this article, hear me out. This waiting is not passive. To wait on the Lord means to actively seek Him and His direction in a focused way, believing that He knows what He’s doing and that He will accomplish everything that is in His heart in His way and in His time…and He will make clear to you His agenda for you during this season. It may be that He wants to give you faith to step out in obedience without fear. It may be that He wants you to stop looking at what others are doing or not doing, saying or not saying, and take a long look at your heart. Whatever it is, He will lead you to it. Come to Him (without an agenda) in prayer and open His Word and let Him speak specifically to you.
Secondly, trust that God will guide His Church through these days. Pray for a fresh awareness of others as we step toward “Normal” together. Your opinion is important, but it’s not ultimate. Listen more than you speak. Wait on the Lord, and worship. He will lead us.
In Him, Pastor Jon