Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Exposing the Heart of Fear. . .

Some have commented upon this crisis as the first to face the post-Christian era.  I don't know about that.  What I do see is that the post-Christian era has a thin skin with not much heart underneath.  It has not taken long before we have given into our fears and panic.  Gone is the veneer of everybody's okay and back again is suspicion of the stranger and familiar face alike.  Gone is the idyllic egalitarianism and back is the greed of the hoarder who needs 144 rolls of toilet paper more than his neighbor needs 2.  Gone is the idea of spirituality that need not be anchored in any real hope but finds its sentiment fulfilled in dribs and drabs of religion from a buffet of offerings.

We are fearful because our culture no longer believes in a God who intervenes on behalf of His people.  The modern deity is detached, watching the world like we watch our screens.  Such a god is a good idea for a people in love with their technology but such a god offers little of real hope and comfort in a time of fear and anxiety.  We are panicky because our culture has no back up, nothing to fall back upon, only the stark and fearful reality magnified by a thousand talking heads on the media or dialog bubbles on social media.

For Christians, this is our time to shine.  We are in this world but not of it.  Our lives are anchored in the Savior who was made flesh for our salvation, who suffered and died in our place upon the cross, and who rose to bestow upon us a world without end and a life no death than steal.  This is our time to shine.  We can be cautious and prudent and follow law and medical advice but still shine with the Light of Christs in a world of shadows and darkness.  This is our time to shine and show the love for neighbor that shares our meager resources in scarcity and lives the peace that passes understanding.  This is our time to shine and to continue to meet together to hear the Word of God preached, to receive the healing word of absolution to our sin sick souls, and to feast upon the body and blood of Christ that never disappoint and always satisfy and quench.

I watched a commercial in which a smug Ron Reagan (yes, that one, the son of the President Reagan) who insisted that it was time to rid our world of religion and, with a smile on his face, he boldly asserted he was not afraid of hell.  Perhaps it is not the hell of judgment that will expose the emptiness of such a man and such a worldview.  In the face of a pandemic, he has nothing.  He has no hope, no peace, no future, and no comfort to share with a world in fear.  He has only his technology and his moment and both of which never looked so fragile as they do right now.

This is our time to shine.  A world is in search of real hope, of life that can withstand the onslaught of disease and even death, and of a peace that will not abandon you when in the valley of the shadow.  We have this hope in us.  We live it out together around the Word and Table of the Lord in worship.  We live it out for the benefit of our neighbor in good works.  We live it out as lighthouses for Christ in a world of darkness.  Be of good cheer, my friends.  Not only is the Lord still our refuge and strength and our very present help in time of trouble.  We have something to give a world in fear and His name is Jesus.  Do not be afraid.  Do not panic.  Do not despair.  We belong to the Lord no matter what happens in the next day, week, month, year, or decade.  So let us live out this faith before the world.  God has used this time to expose the heart of fear in the world and we can show them the beating heart of faith, the love of our Father in heaven, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the peace that only the Holy Spirit can give.  This is our time to shine!


Anonymous said...

I hope our president, Matt Harrison, publicly encourages all LCMS congregations to continue meeting regularly for Word and Sacrament worship. We should be strengthening our faith in these and all times in the house of God in prayer, praise, offerings, and service this Lenten and Easter season. As the Germans used to say, “We fear God and nothing else.”

John Joseph Flanagan said...

Soli Deo Gloria. And if God be for us, how can we fear the disdain of the world?

John Joseph Flanagan said...

It is prudent, in times of a pandemic, to forego public worship. It may mean praying in the privacy of our homes, something we should be doing anyway, but it does not mean we should tempt the Lord by defying common sense precautions. The Lord has equpped us with sound minds and wisdom, and it is wise to avoid getting a contagious virus or giving it to others.