Seven not-so-shallow lessons from the lockdown, so far

So what’s it been now, four, five months? How does it feel to live in lockdown? Is there anything we can learn from this experience?

#1. We can’t live in isolation. We need people — physically near us — and more than just one or two family members. Remember that “no man is an island”? We were created as social creatures. As much as a blessing as the internet can be, it cannot substitute physical presence. Isolation creates stress. And while so many talk about how hard it is to work with or deal with people, we’re far worse off without them. You may say, well, sure, we all know that. If so, why are we living as if it weren’t true?

#2. Go read about the testing in Florida, with reported positive test results 10 times greater than the real results. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but something is deeply wrong with the whole approach here. I refuse to be cowed. I refuse to bow to the fear-mongering. We need not be stupid about risks, but neither must we faint or fear. The social Awe-and-Wow is smoke and mirrors, except when you get fined or jailed, but even then realize who the magician is behind the curtain.

#3. From the get-go, our congregation kept on meeting. We believe in obeying God rather than man. We divided into three smaller groups, and continued our work. God has blessed it with saints stepping up to serve and teach and with people showing interest in becoming Christians. Which means that …

#4. “God’s word is not chained” 2 Timothy 2.9. Paul was in prison when he wrote that. In fact, God uses our limitations to break through with his power. Read through the letter of 2 Timothy and see how much power is mentioned.

#5. Work harder and work smarter. What does this have to do with the lockdown? Just that it has given us more opportunity to teach on the internet, live and on recorded video, as well as spend more time in writing and teaching. Every moment brings its specific challenges and special opportunities.

#6. This one may sound political, but it really isn’t: Don’t trust any government. This mistrust is deeply rooted in my family and in my greater social background, but it’s also biblical. Christians submit to the governing authorities, as per Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2, until the law of man steps into the Kingdom of God, but the power of man is shallow and fleeting. And often abused. Still, God uses imperfect government to maintain order. Better than chaos and anarchy.

#7. God is sovereign over all. Herein lies our sanity. Seeing the craziness of the world and the departures in the church would drive one mad were it not for the comforting truth of God’s Rule that encompasses the world. In my email signature right now is Ephesians 4.6: “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (OK, so the email signature is in Portuguese, but I still get the message.) He is Lord, and joy derives from his exercise of Lordship. We were not made to take his place. This joy will be full when God pulls down all resistance and ends all rebellion. No sweeter place than to be in heaven where there is no more (rebellious) sea. That is the place for me. So we pray: Maranatha!

I reserve the right to add to this list. After all, the lockdown is far from over. But some lessons become evident quickly. Others take more time to surface.

What positive lessons have you learned, or relearned in the last isolated months? I’d be interested in hearing from you.

P.S. The photo has little to do with the text, but it got your attention, and that’s good enough. Or think like this: God is the author of some wildly beautiful things, the first of which is his salvation plan in Christ.

P.P.S. If you found anything of value to you here, please share the link to this article with people who are important to you.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

5 thoughts on “Seven not-so-shallow lessons from the lockdown, so far

  1. These notes are extra items and minor points from the Forthright Magazine article, “One God and Father of us all.”

    The Tradução ecumênica da Bíblia (1994) hits the right note here with its translation: “who reigns over all, acts through all, and remains in all” (my translation into English). See also the Amplified Bible: “one God and Father of us all who is [sovereign] over all and [working] through all and [living] in all.” The Message hits it right as well: “who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all.”
    J. Sheerer (829) sees a reference to God’s providence in the phrase “through all.” I would see it more in the phrase “over all.” However, he provides a happy reminder here that God’s providence is at work today in and among his people. He says, “God continues to work out his will in a providential way.” For God’s providence, see Robert C. Hampton and Gary C. Hampton, Unseen Hand.

    M. Weed (1971, 159) notes that the pronoun “us” in the RSV phrase: “God and Father of us all,” should be omitted. Its presence, however, reminds us that the phrase has been been and, pace Weed, ought to be, understood as referring to the unity of Jews and Gentiles, and not to mankind generally. Various translations use the expression, “Father of everything,” a thought rather strange to Scripture.
    Since the article focused on “one God,” the theme of Forthright Magazine during July, 2020, we have dealt little with his Fatherhood. God as Father is one of the great truths of the faith. The church as family depends upon him being Father and “fathering” us in the new birth, John 3.3, 5; 1 John 5.1 (NET). It is in Christ that we may, like him, call him Father: “my Father and your Father, … my God and your God” John 20.17.
    See this personal note (#7 in the list) about this text.
    Works Cited

    WEED, Michael R. (1971) The Letters to the Ephesians, the Colossians, and Philemon. Austin TX: Sweet.
    SHEERER, Jim (2001) New Testament Commentary. Chickasha OK: Yeomen.

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