Only a short time ago we were happily going about our business, working, exercising, socialising, then all of a sudden life changed. Now, not many can go to work. Exercise is restricted to a walk or run every day, with or without a dog. Socialising is via social media, and, of course, we know so many are fighting Covid-19. This is not the life we expected.
The Bible is full of characters whose life changed suddenly. Abraham was called by God to leave a cosmopolitan city and live in a desert. Joseph was one day sold into slavery by his brothers and taken to a new country. Daniel was taken into exile following the defeat of his country by an invader. Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen called by Jesus to follow him, so they left their boats and nets behind to become apostles. Paul was a religious leader who persecuted the early church, until one day he met the risen Jesus and became an ardent follower.
You would assume for each of these characters that their lives took a turn for the worse. Living in a tent, not my idea of fun. Give me my home comforts and day. Becoming a slave. Leaving a settled job for one with no prospects except death. Being persecuted far more than you ever persecuted others. This is what happened to them and yet none of them would have wanted to return to their former life. Following God’s will and living for Him were the source of their joy and satisfaction. Each realised that what they gained in their new life was so much better than what they’d left behind.
We hope that one day our lives return to normal, but they never will. Yes, we will return to work, exercise as we will, socialise whenever we want and with whoever we want, but we will have changed and we’ll have a new normal. We’re passing through an experience that is challenging us and revealing lots about us. We’re discovering, for instance, that we are much more fearful than we thought, or much more courageous. We’re learning that we are focused on helping others or on helping ourselves. We now know if we’re optimists or pessimists. In essence, we’re discovering much about ourselves.
I wonder if you’ll like your new normal? Will you like the new you? Do you like the current you? It’s sad to see how many people don’t like themselves. People who have so much going for them, maybe highly respected by others, can look at themselves and hate what they see. Are you one of those? Have you felt this way from childhood, or did something happen to destroy your self image? We’re you the victim of a bully, or did you fail exams? Maybe you failed in business or in a relationship? Perhaps your life has been perfect so far, but you still hate yourself?
Well, I’ve got some good news for you. You may not love yourself but I know someone who loves you, whether it’s the pre or post coronavirus you. His name is Jesus and the proof that he loves you is conclusive. Let me take you back 2000 years when Jesus walked on Earth. He’d left his Father in heaven to carry out a specific task, which was to die. What kind of task is that you may ask? What kind of Father is this? It’s the most difficult task ever faced and one which God the Father deemed necessary before he could adopt us, which is his great plan for us. God wants us to be his children and to bring that about Father, Son and Holy Spirit agreed on a plan of salvation that would rid us of the sin that currently keeps us separated from God. This plan would ensure that through an act of faith on our part we would have all our sins forgiven, we would be reconciled to God, and he would adopt us as his own.
It’s an awesome plan but it requires our sin to be dealt with. We all understand that as a child, if we did something wrong, we could expect punishment. If someone commits a crime it’s right that they are punished. Sin deserves punishment and we can’t complain if God punishes us, but his plan of salvation involves Jesus being punished instead. Can you believe that? We are the sinners but God loves us so much, and has such a desire to adopt us, that he chose to take the punishment for us. What does he expect in return? Just a simple act of faith, an acknowledgement that Jesus died for us, and a willingness to turn our life around and live for God. Not much to ask is it?