It seems the whole world has gone “online”!
This social isolation has transformed how we do anything and everything. There are things we never imagined doing online, yet here we are: from church to coffee catch ups, choir practice to playdates, even doctors visits and dinner parties; it seems there is nothing which we can not do remotely. Suddenly, it seems we have found that random people in video form have become fixtures of our everyday life, keeping us fit, keeping us laughing, keeping us thinking.
Like so many churches across the globe, we have taken to streaming services and ramped up social media presence as a way keeping us connected as a community, and keeping our hearts and minds focussed on God. So, in many ways it is business as usual (with an online twist). Yet there are still so many who are outside our church community who are isolated, lost and lonely; so the question arises: can we make disciples in isolation?
Our calling as disciples is to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus does not qualify this with “just so long as you can get out and about”, so I read this as saying go and make disciples in any context, and at any time. Disciple making is not simply one on one contact imparting knowledge and wisdom; true disciple making should be considered more as life on life sharing of self, a building of God-honouring relationships in order to transform lives with the love and truth of the gospel, and to help them learn how to live this out in their everyday. The early disciples not only heard the teaching, but they saw an example of how what they had heard could be lived out in their context, and it transformed the world! So how can we share a Jesus infused life in our current contexts? Is it possible to do this in isolation? What examples can we draw on? We need look no further than the Bible! The Apostle Paul managed a disciple making relationship with Timothy from the isolation of a first century prison! Paul used what the confines of his context allowed (letters and messengers) to encourage, build up, correct and caution young believers. Paul chose to be a disciple maker despite his circumstances; by sharing life on life he built an enduring relationship, and we are still beneficiaries of his work today. His example shows us that true disciple-making is about relationship - and not even social isolation can stop that!
So, will you choose to be a disciple maker in isolation? Will choose to encourage others to build their life on the rock of Jesus Christ by sharing your life with them? Will you be an example of a Jesus exalting life from the confines of your home? It’s as easy as picking up a pen, picking up the phone, sending an email, or getting on line; let’s all get on board with true disciple making and transform the world one life at a time!
Grace & Peace,
Easter 2020 in Australia was radically different to what we are used to. Instead of full churches, fun with family and friends and parades and celebrations; we gathered together through technology, remained isolated from others, and watched in disbelief at the tragic loss of life across the globe. For many in our communities, this Easter was marked by fear, anxiety, loneliness and hopelessness. But when we look at Easter 2020 through the eyes of faith, what we truly see was an undistracted Easter; a day where the anxieties of our world simply highlighted the power and beauty of what Christ accomplished for us through His death and resurrection; it captured beautifully the tension between fear and hope.
As Disciples of Jesus, we know that because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ we are people of hope, not of hopelessness. As Christians we know that God’s grace can transform the most hopeless situations to the greatest of victories; the greatest isolation into incredible community; and the deepest sadness into unspeakable joy. Because we are a people of hope, even in situations where things have fallen (or are falling) apart and all seems lost, we can get up, put one foot in front of the other, and let God make something beautiful out of it. We know with certainty that God IS working all things together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. And what is this purpose? To live our lives on purpose. To be intentional about how we live in all things - to bring honour and glory to His name. Jesus said:
Let’s move forward living the Easter life everyday; let’s share our hope, our joy and our peace with a lost, hurting and desperate world.
In His strength and through His grace.
As we approach Easter in a radically different environment:
Our world in recent weeks has changed dramatically. Our country and our community is just emerging from a summer of scorching heat, devastating bushfires and uncontrollable flood. And now, with the added uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, for many it is almost unimaginable to find new life amidst the ashes and hope amidst the turmoil. BUT GOD!
While we may be struggling with the pace of change right now, as Christians it is important that we recognise that some things remain constant. The message of the gospel is one of the things never changes, regardless of the turbulence around us.
Redemption. Resurrection. Eternal life. Our new normal means that we will be gathering online this Easter; however Easter is not cancelled! The Church building may be closed but this simply enables God to deploying His people in new and exciting ways, taking the message of Easter into neighbourhoods, driveways, letterboxes and online forums: we are taking the message out, rather than expecting a lost and broken world to come in.
The message of Easter is even more relevant in times of darkness, difficulty and change, as it reminds us that in our darkest days, hope rises amidst heartache. The reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest message ever given to humanity. It’s the ultimate ‘signal of hope’. So as we approach Easter this year lets pray for our neighbours, our friends and our enemies alike; lets remember to give thanks to God for His great love for all humankind, and for His great victory through the cross. And let’s be prepared to be deployed as ambassadors of Christ, sharing his message of Hope, Forgiveness and Redemption with lost and broken world.
Standing firm in His Grip & Grace.
Jen is an energetic and passionate disciple of Christ who loves to share Jesus with anyone who will listen!