2 John 12
“Though I have much to write you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” 2 John 12
I hope you’ve become painfully aware of the fact that ‘church at home’ is not the same as the gathered public assembly of God’s redeemed people. One of God’s purposes in ordaining this virus is to discipline our church and many others – he disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:5-7). Isn’t it likely that, as Goodenough said on Sunday, we’ve taken for granted the importance of gathering physically on Sundays?
We are truly thankful to God for the technology that allows us to publish services. We’re thankful to Ruth, Eugene and others who work hard behind the scenes to put services together and publish them. We want to continually improve ‘church at home’ for however long this forced separation goes on – and would welcome your prayers for wisdom in how to do so. But even if we put together the most polished service with state-of-the-art sound quality, it’s just not same as meeting together. (A polished presentation is not the heart of real worship anyway – the Pharisees presented themselves as polished professional clergymen).
Going to church is more than just getting a weekly fill of truth. There is something about each of us, as embodied creatures, that makes the public gathering more edifying than an online service. Based on what the Apostle John wrote, our joy cannot really be complete until we meet again face to face. (If you don’t feel some degree of pain and frustration with not being able to meet, you are almost certainly not a believer).
During this time of forced separation, what can we do?
- Pray for reunion. There’s a lot of talk in the media about the “new normal.” It’s as if people are throwing in the towel — giving up on the idea that things will go back to the way they were. Let’s not adopt the language of “new normal.” Forced separation is not normal. And it’s too soon to know what the future holds. Instead of assuming the worst, we should ask the Lord to provide a way for us to safely meet together again – and sooner rather than later!
- Seek ‘Face time.’ Obviously, we want to respect the governing authorities. Within the limits of whatever stage of lockdown we’re in, we should seek face-to-face time with fellow believers (with wise ‘social distancing’ of course). If we can’t meet face-to-face, a phone call or a text can go a long way. We all need encouragement. And the Lord expects all of us (Hebrews 3:13) to encourage one another to keep trusting Jesus to the end, knowing that he uses those means to help us persevere. Of course, we can all pray for one another, too.
I look forward to the day when these devotions will cease and we can have a cup of coffee or enjoy a braai face to face.