Over the past two Sundays, I have seen a few faces in worship that I have not seen in the sanctuary for months. I also keep hearing about more and more people I know who have been vaccinated. And restaurants are back up to 50% capacity. I think things are loosening up – even if it is ever so slowly.
I expect the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will help, too. First of all, it is a single-dose vaccine. And secondly, it is a traditional vaccine, so those who had concerns about the use of MRNA now have a viable option (though some religious leaders are recommending the first vaccines over this third option). And J & J’s partnership with rival Merck should help with the loosening up from the pandemic as well.
While I am pleased to see things loosening up like this, these advances are not really in the forefront of my mind this morning. Rather a conversation earlier this week with fellow pastors has that location. That conversation, and the prayer that has been in my mind ever since.
As we were looking for God@Work stories about the pandemic, the discussion drifted onto three modern gods … false deities of our society: Technology, science, and government. Each are wonderful gifts of God, tools through which he works to bless his creation. However, we, the offspring of Adam and Eve, tend to elevate them up from their true position (gifts of God) to a loftier one – they become “gods” to which we look for our salvation and the highest good.
Yet, with all of technology’s advancements, $75,000.00 pickups have rust problems. With each answer that science provides, new questions emerge … and people keep dying. And in spite of who is in power, or how many laws are passed, or how much money is spent, poverty, greed, and violence … along with depression, anxiety, and hopelessness … remain major issues. Neither the advancement of these three “mega-gods” nor the total rejection of them will ever provide “the peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4.7)
Gifts are gifts … and God is God. It is as simple as that. And the sooner we each are loosened up to trust in this fact, the quicker we will be freed from the slaveries listed above. “God is light. … If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1.5-7) And, as you may have heard me say 1,000 times before, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10.17)
It grieves me to see all of the fear, animosity, and hopelessness that is multiplied in our world as people put their trust in these false gods. However, it grieves me even more when I see people of faith rejecting these gifts from God and thus contributing to the growth of those evils. What we all need is a major loosening up.
I started to tense up yesterday just thinking about all of this, but then came last night. In our LENTEN CARoling (see below) we sang about Jesus and heard from is word … and my spirit was lifted. There is light in this dark world, however, rather than being found at the end of the tunnel, it is found in the open tomb of our Lord’s resurrection. As the one True God says through the apostle Paul, “Whatever is true (God’s Word), whatever is honorable (God’s ways), whatever is just, and pure, and lovely (God), whatever is commendable (God’s will), if there is any excellence or anything worthy of praise (Jesus), think about these things (think about Jesus) … and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4.8-9)
Gifts are gifts. God is God. As we listen to his word, sing his praises, and rightly use his gifts of technology, science, and government, “the God of peace is with us.” It is just so simple! Let the loosening up begin!