Jesus’ words in Matthew 6: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink … but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Each day as we handle the crisis of the Covid19 virus, new advisories are coming out of the CDC and the White House. We are being told that it is imperative to dramatically restrict our social activity; we are being warned that the death toll depends on our response. And responding we are: schools are closing, churches are offering worship services online, restaurants are shutting down, and travel bans are being respected. There is an understandable amount of anxiety and fear. Most of us have not passed this way before, our lives have been put on hold, our routines have been disrupted. Some parents are asking, “What shall I do with the children for the next few weeks, what if they don’t go back to school until next fall?” We find ourselves in an unfamiliar and frightening situation.
Yet, Jesus tells us: <em>”Do not worry…”</em> Be vigilant, prudent, and take precautions seriously. But take Jesus seriously as well. Given that much of what keeps us busy has been put on hold, we have more time to seek Him, more time to study his Word, and pray. What an opportunity. What a promise that all we worry about will sort out.
When something is taken away, like our normal schedules, that something is usually replaced; the replacement is opportunity. Sure it is normal to react with worry, fear, and resentment. But in Matthew 6, Jesus invites and commands us to seek the higher reality of God’s kingdom. Instead of worry, we can take the opportunity he offers us: opportunity to be at home with our family minus our usual activities that cause life to be hectic. We turn to those around us and reassure them of the love of Christ, which calls us to overcome fear and respond in faith. Many of us will have occasion not only to demonstrate the love of Christ, but to offer Christ to those who do not know him.
I see God moving on my small street of twelve families who are offering to pick up groceries so neighbors do not have to go out. Those who had the foresight to prepare for shortages are offering to share out of their abundance. It has been a time of coming together in ways that we have not before. One neighbor of a different religion has shared that she was educated in a Catholic school; she has opened the door to talk about what we have in common. What an opportunity!
Despite the death, destruction, and concern that comes with a pandemic like the Covid19 virus, God is still in control and we see Him moving among us. I find this to be true in the case of our United Methodist Church. The 2020 General Conference has been postponed. We will not be able to pass the Protocol in May. As yet, we have no idea when that will be. Just like our lives, the General Conference has been put on hold. Although postponed, it will be rescheduled.
Has Jesus provided? Yes He has. Our United Methodist Church operates under the Book of Discipline, which was NOT changed, but affirmed and strengthened at the 2019 General Conference when the Traditional Plan was passed. We still officially follow the same scriptural doctrines that the Church has operated under for over 2,000 years. Will those who have vowed to be unfaithful to our doctrine be so? Certainly. But as many if not more of us will remain faithful to historic Christianity in the United Methodist Church. “Do not worry!” Instead pray and seize the many opportunities that will be given to you to be the Church. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; proclaim His faithfulness.