LOVING MUSLIMS TOGETHER

Focus

Lorna Johnston / Monday, April 27, 2020

Focus

A simple definition of focus would be, ‘To concentrate attention or effort on a particular pressing need.’

The whole world is focused on one priority.

A quick read of any reputable news source will quickly point to the reality that there is one thing occupying the whole world’s attention. If you had spoken to anyone just 3-4 months ago and said ‘coronavirus’ most people would have given you a puzzled look. Today, people can tell you quite a bit about coronaviruses in general, and even more about Covid-19 in particular (a member of the coronavirus family).

In this Together: Our Response

This invisible virus has changed everything—the way we work, the way we socialize, the way we shop, the way we greet, the way we exercise, the way we manage our economies, and perhaps most importantly, the way we work together.

Everybody is cheering on the frontline healthcare workers. But we’re also cheering on all the people in key supporting roles, the companies that are pivoting their work priorities to produce personal protective equipment, and even the people who can safely continue to go to their regular work thus helping prevent the economy from completely collapsing.

Those of us who stay home find ways to participate—from banging our pots at 7pm each night, to checking in with those we know who are vulnerable, to resisting that urge to go out and be with other people.

We are all in this together and we are all bringing our best contributions to this battle.

We are cheering because leaders around the world are sharing information and cooperating with each other to accelerate breakthroughs, collaborating in ways we have never seen before. ‘Unprecedented’ is a word that aptly fits these days.

Questions?

The great unanswered questions are:

  • Will we do everything we must to combat this virus?
  • Will we persevere in working together to eradicate this threat?
  • Or will we give up and instead adopt a new ‘normal’ that makes room for this deadly pestilence in our daily lives?

Only time will tell.

The whole church focused on one priority?

Early on in the pandemic I read a blog by Mark Oden of Crosslinks, entitled ‘Eight things the coronavirus is teaching us’—you can read it here. He ends his blog talking about a different ‘virus’ –

‘In a sense the most important question is not, 'what hope do you have in the face of the coronavirus?' because Jesus came to warn us of the presence of a far more lethal and widespread virus. A virus that has struck every man, woman and child. A virus that ends in not only certain death, but eternal death. A virus called sin. And our species, according to Jesus, lives in the grip of a pandemic outbreak of the virus of sin. What is your hope in the face of that virus?’

As I’ve pondered his comparison of the Covid-19 virus to the ‘virus’ of sin in our world, I’ve started realizing how apt the comparison is.

The difference, however, is that the people of God, the Church, have been tasked with bringing the readily available cure to the world.

The Same Questions

So, it is to us then, Christ-followers, that these same questions must be asked:

  • Will we do everything we must to combat the virus?
  • Will we persevere in working together to eradicate this threat?
  • Or will we give up and instead adopt a new normal’ that makes room for this deadly pestilence in our daily lives?

Only time will tell.

In John 4:35 and following, Jesus, during his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, says to his disciples,

“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor”.

In this Together? What will our Response be? 

As Christ-followers, is our focus in battling the deadly ‘sin-virus’ as committed as our pursuit of a remedy for Covid-19?

Is it true of the Church that this invisible virus has changed everything—the way we work, the way we socialize, the way we shop, the way we greet, the way we exercise, the way we manage our economies, and perhaps most importantly, the way we work together?

Are we cheering on the frontline mission workers and all the people in key supporting roles, including the companies who are pivoting their work priorities to support God’s mission?

Are we valuing the people who continue to go to their regular work, because it is where God has placed them and gives them capacity to be salt and light in the workplace while giving them financial capacity to support the mission?

Are those of us who stay home finding ways to participate—from praying for the lost, to encouraging others in God’s mission, to loving those God brings into our lives?

We are all in this together—are we all bringing our best contributions to this priority?

Are we cheering because mission leaders around the world are sharing information and cooperating with each other to accelerate breakthroughs? Are we collaborating in ways we have never seen before?

YES! (And how to join in…)

I believe that the answer to many of these questions is YES! And I believe there is opportunity for even greater focus. Just as with Covid-19, so in this battle against the ‘sin-virus’ we are living in unprecedented days. Some examples:

  • The church is growing and expanding at an accelerating rate around the world in some of the hardest, most resistant nations. (An example would be the country of Iran which is reported to be the fastest growing church in the world.) PRAY that disciple multiplying movements would continue to flourish in these pandemic conditions and that we would see the Lord of the Harvest powerfully at work in these days.
  • During a global lockdown, the level of responsiveness to online media and conversation is rising rapidly as people search for answers to the big questions of life. EXPLORE the idea of becoming an online mentor to help people on their journey towards Jesus Christ.
  • The Church is scattered all over the neighbourhoods. With time and opportunity as perhaps never before, acts of generosity, kindness and encouragement are being met with openness as God’s people reflect hope to the fearful. PRAYERFULLY WATCH for opportunities to engage, at a safe social distance, with the lonely and discouraged in your neighbourhood.

In these days of global upheaval, remember that the harvest is all around.

We can press on in faith, perseverance and hope in the far greater struggle to see that the cure for the ‘sin-virus’ is carried to everyone who has been infected.

We can work together in unity and unswerving focus as the worldwide Church in the labor of the harvest that Jesus himself pointed out to his disciples was ‘white for harvest’.

Lorna Johnston is the Diaspora Ministries Leader at Outreach Canada. She leads two national teams--Loving Muslims Together (LMT) and Simply Mobilizing Canada (SMC). She works with teams of diverse and experienced leaders and ministries across Canada to alert and activate the church in Canada to the changing opportunities to engage God's mission right here in Canada.

 





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