Dr. Phil: It is likely that we all would agree in principle that the “Church” is much more than just a building or location or even one local group of believers. Yet a year like this one has made us take this long held theology and consider afresh what the community of believers means for us personally and how to navigate the lack of personal fellowship and communal worship in its many forms. While disrupting, this exercise is nonetheless a helpful one.
What does it mean not being able to “go to church” and what are the limitations of a digital church? The reality over the last two thousand years of the Church is that nothing (including pandemics and economic crises, of which there are have been many) will thwart God’s plan for his Church. He will fulfill his purpose for his Body, in spite of any obstacle or disruption.
However, throughout the last two thousand years the way in which the Body of Christ functions as local churches has gone through many changes. This year may turn out to be one of those major watershed moments in the history of the church. Years from now we may look back and marvel at how God used the year 2020 to retool his Church to better fulfill his purposes in this earth in the decades and century ahead.
In order to have a faith for this type of creative change (which at the time seems more destructive than constructive), I believe we need to have a broader perspective and see the current global pandemic in the context of God’s eternal plan, as difficult as this may be in real time. While we may feel helpless in affecting the ever-changing regulations and the future, we can shift our attitude and prepare ourselves for what is around the corner when this current crisis inevitably comes to end.
I have been reminded lately of Paul’s words in 2 Cor. 5:16 as he was trying to elevate the community of believers in Corinth to view their reality from a godly perspective. He writes to them that they used to view each other from a worldly point of view, and actually they also viewed Christ and his work form this limited, temporal perspective. He encourages them to see how they are to be a completely new creation. . . not just a renovation. In addition to this, they were to then take part in being “ministers of reconciliation.” Quite a shift in perspective. From the micro-view of their own lives to the macro-view of God’s plan for them.
This year I too have been trying to view our global realities and their implications from an eternal, godly perspective rather than just a “worldly point of view. In other words to have a Christ-like perspective. For us as a ministry it means anticipating what God may want to do in the future and what preparation we can make to be better “ministers of reconciliation” as Paul admonished the Corinthians. It is only our faith in Him that will provide us with that eternal hope for the future.
As we reflect on all the disappointments, heartache, and disorientation of 2020, my prayer is that we will gaze beyond what we see in our present circumstances to view God’s perspective and purposes for his Church; to see what he is doing to make us those more effective ministers of reconciliation – reconciling people with God. Along this journey, may we all experience his peace and joy that supersedes what we are currently going through.