I wrote a few weeks back about how we wanted to frame this strange season we find ourselves in, and the sense I had was that it was going to be one of re-sensitising, of waking up. We’re going to be become way more present and way more aware. Specifically I think that will look like three majors moves:
“That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.” – John 20:19
It’s easy to read this verse and imagine Jesus as some kind of ghost, an ethereal spirit who somehow just floated through the keyhole and presented himself to his friends. But what if it was something else? What if the locked door proved no obstacle because Jesus was just more real that the very wood it was made from? What if, right now, He is more real than the chair you are sitting on?
Similarly, when Jesus first shows up in the gospel of Mark, he announces that “the kingdom of God is at hand.”. His arrival heralded a different way of ordering the world that is right there at our fingertips, if we would just repent (change our minds) and turn towards it (him).
In other words, there is a kingdom – a reality – that is deeper, and truer, and better than the realities that we assumed governed the world around us. Many of which we now see starting to crumble beneath our feet. Jesus always has been, and always will be, the cornerstone on which anything of permanence can be built. And now, because of him, we ourselves have become heirs to this inherent reality; the sons and daughters through whom it will continue to be revealed (Romans 8).
Faith through the storm
In the times pre-COVID 19 in would be easy to write about this new kind of kingdom in a triumphal fashion. But right now doesn’t feel particularly triumphal. It feels a lot less like the dawning of a new day and much more like a new darkness is covering the earth. For many, it feels like a storm. And one in fact that may only just be getting going.
But Jesus has always known what to do when the weather gets rough:
“22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. 23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.
24 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. 25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?”
The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!””
– Luke 8:22-25
With everything that is going on around us right now, the question from Jesus remains the same as that which he asked his disciples in the boat:
“Where is your faith?”
What kingdom do you belong to? Which reality are you living from?
Trusting in Jesus doesn’t deny the winds and the waves, it just asks us not to take our lead from them. Instead we put our faith in the One who takes authority over them.
Honestly, there might be times when it feels like this global storm could drown us, and our prayer is for God to somehow airlift us from the rickety vessel in which we are carried and just get us out of there. But in changing our perspective from one of escape to one of journeying through; to building our lives on Jesus and the Peace that does not just endure the storm but finds victory over it, we will discover a maturity in him that would not otherwise have been possible.
“But in changing our perspective from one of ‘escape’ to one of ‘journeying through’ we will discover a maturity in him that would not otherwise have been possible”
I think what we will find is that people who land on the opposite shore will be ones who are now more equipped for the next part of the journey. And if our allegiance is in the right place – if we live within Jesus’ inherent reality – we can and will become the imagineers of a new future with him.
So I ask again, “where is your faith?”
And possibly more significantly, how is that faith shaping the way you interact with the world right now?
Children of the Resurrection
At Christmas time we hear about the coming messiah, of the light that will shine out from the darkness that covers the earth. But it is at Easter that we see the consummation of this promise. And as we journey through this Easter weekend together, I pray that we would not be overwhelmed by our current circumstances and instead be able to see the bigger picture and find our place again in God’s great story.
The story of a king who would die for his enemies rather than punish them;
…of a revolution built on love and sacrifice, and not of conquest and power;
…of a God who lay dead in the ground but would come back to glorious life.
The story that shows that reality around us is not always as it would seem; that there is something deeper going on.
Even in the midst of night, the sun will rise again.
Ralph Pedley, Campus Awakening UK Director