It used to be that if you wanted to take a good portrait of someone you had to carefully adjust the F-stop and aperture. I don’t even know if I said that right, but you had to do something like that, and if you failed, your picture was a blurry mess.
In comes auto-focus and a camera’s ability to single out and track an object, even give specific attention to faces. It’s quite incredible, and all happens seemingly instantaneously.
You don’t have to worry about a subject going out of focus. The camera will automatically do the work of refocusing.
If only it were that easy with our hearts. Life happens, change happens, and no matter what, our hearts would spontaneously and instantly recalibrate and refocus on God.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. Our hearts are idol factories as John Calvin put it. Our default is idol worship. And with that being our default, one of our standard practices must be repentance.
Life is difficult right now. We all know it. We all feel it. Our hearts and minds are liable to go off the deep end into fear, sin, and insanity.
But we are also living in glorious times. Our God is a rock, a fortress, a mighty deliverer, who holds the heavens in the palm of his hand, and who directs history toward His intended purpose without the slightest hint of uncertainty.
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.” -Isaiah 46:9–10
He delights to use the worst of us and the worst in this world, to show His exceeding power, greatness, and grace. He is glorifying His Son Jesus, and He will glorify His Son. He is building His church, and He will extend His mission through the Church to the ends of the earth. He is doing these things, and the Bible calls us to trust Him on that.
But we are weak. We are sinful. We are prone to unbelief and idolatry.
May we take today as an opportunity to refocus our hearts on God. Here are three encouragements along that line:
- Worship Jesus
Our great King has come for us and died to save us. He now lives and reigns above every other power and authority. His love will never let us go. He conquered everything we could possibly fear. He will one day wipe away every tear and every trouble, every sickness, and every sin. He waits for the appointed time for when His Father says, “Go claim your bride and bring her home.” Our precious Jesus waits for us in our heavenly Jerusalem. May we set our affections on Him and worship Him now in all His glory.
When life gets bitter, Christ becomes all the sweeter, as John Piper comments:
What God is doing in the coronavirus is showing us— graphically, painfully—that nothing in this world gives the security and satisfaction that we find in the infinite greatness and worth of Jesus. This global pandemic takes away our freedom of movement, our business activity, and our face-to-face relations. It takes away our security and our comfort. And, in the end, it may take away our lives. The reason God exposes us to such losses is to rouse us to rely on Christ. Or to put it another way, the reason he makes calamity the occasion for offering Christ to the world is that the supreme, all-satisfying greatness of Christ shines more brightly when Christ sustains joy in suffering.” (Christ and the Coronavirus, 82)
2. Love the Church
May we also love one another deeply and sincerely, from the heart. Our brothers and sisters need us. They don’t primarily need our “right” opinions on masks, vaccines, or government, as passionate or convictional as we might feel about those things. They do primarily need us to be bringers of Christ to one another, bringers of hope and encouragement, light and life. May we put our disagreements in their proper place and focus on what unites us…
“I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” -Ephesians 4:1-6
We may disagree about things. We will disagree. But while disagreements are optional, agreements are not. We must agree in the gospel as the fundamental reality of who we are and we must let our unity in God then fashion and shape us.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” – James 1:19
May we have listening ears and tongues seasoned with grace. If we can’t say anything that brings edification and grace to others, let’s not say it. That doesn’t mean we stop standing up for truth, but that we speak the truth in love.
Celebrating the gospel will lead us to more joy, more hope, and more satisfaction in Christ. We will all be more resilient against the onslaughts of this broken and evil world and more effective in our mission to the world.
3. Reach the World
Satan hates the glory of God and he hates the mission of God. He will throw at us anything he can to get our sights off of the hurting and lost around us. Pain, sickness, tribulation, and temptations to jealousy and division–he will use whatever he can.
If Satan can get us divided or distracted, he wins big time. Not ultimately of course, but temporarily he gains a foothold. Therefore we must stand fortified against His schemes, stirring our affections for one another and resilient in our missional posture toward nonbelievers.
May we show the world a hope that reaches beyond sickness, government, and death. May we show them a church family that loves one another and that invites them in to experience the joy of our fellowship. May we show them a Savior who loves them more than they could possibly imagine.
We can’t wait for life to adjust back to “normal” before we get back out on the missional front. Satan isn’t taking time off, and neither should we.
May we be freshly invigorated with the glory of Jesus, affections for one another in gospel unity, and a zeal to see the lost saved and Christ magnified among the nations.
To Him be glory in Christ and in the church throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen.