Surviving or Thriving?
It is 5 months since the virus hit. It is a weird and surreal time. We have been separated from family and friends and our church community. It has been a time of uncertainty and anxiety for ourselves and others. We still don’t know how it will pan out. I have found myself going through different phases. At times enjoying the different slower pace of life. At other times missing desperately the freedom to see friends and family. It is also weird that I now find myself wary of others. I have had high points and low points.
How about you? How are you doing? How has the loss of the church community affected you? Are you managing to keep in touch with others in the church and finding ways to build each other up? How do you feel about coming back together? Are you excited or wary? Critically, how has your walk with God been affected? Are you surviving or thriving?
This is what Paul says to the Church at Philippi:
J.B. Phillips New Testament - Philippians 2:12-13
So then, my dearest friends… be keener than ever to work out the salvation that God has given you with a proper sense of awe and responsibility. For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose.
If this is going to carry on into the foreseeable future, we have to get to grips with this and live positively in the present circumstances. We have to learn not just how to survive but how to thrive. Being unable to meet together has made me even more determined to go deeper with God. It has made me think about what the essentials of what being church are? What makes us church? How can we grow as Christians as we are separated and unable to gather for worship or in our small groups or even to pray together? How is your relationship with God doing? Is it worse or is it better? Is it shrivelling, surviving or thriving? This is not the first time in the history of the church that we have been unable to gather because of plagues and viruses. This is not a new phenomenon. The amazing thing is that in the past it has been a growth point in the church. So how can we thrive?
We can look to the persecuted church to find ways to thrive and develop our own relationships with God when unable to gather safely. We cannot depend on second-hand faith and insights of others. We must take this opportunity to take responsibility for putting things in place that help us as individuals to grow in our relationship with God. We have to take the lead from Jesus who depended on the Holy Spirit, set aside time alone with God and knew the Bible like the back of his hand. We have to be serious about prayer and in our dealings with people practice love and compassion. But we also need to take every opportunity to encourage and be encouraged, be supportive and supported?
I know that being part of a small “Life Group” has really helped me. We meet on Zoom or in a garden and share life together. We have been challenging one another to draw closer to God. This has been a time of thriving for us. This is a real expression of what being church is. If you are not in a group and would like to be a part of one, please email me at email@example.com or talk to friend who is in one and see if you might be able to join in.
To thrive and not just survive we need to take responsibility and look for ways to cultivate our own relationship with Jesus? What are you putting in place to do this and what do you know that you should be doing? We need to thrive not just survive.
One of the blessings that I have appreciated is this young poet. I hope this makes you think.
Stay well, stay safe and stay connected