The Long and Short of It

Scrolling through social media can be daunting and depressing in even the best of circumstances.  How much more daunting and depressing it can be in times of concern and crisis.  But it can also be of some comfort, as it reminds you that there are people “out there” thinking and writing things that need to be articulated.

I’ve come across two pieces that bring a healthy Christian perspective to our current moment with Covid-19.   The first piece, which is “the long of it,” is a fairly comprehensive essay by Andy Crouch, of The Tech-Wise Family“Love in the Time of Coronavirus” gives voice to a healthy perspective on things, particularly in light of what this means for churches and for Christians hoping to be a witness in our time.  From the section titled “What Should We Communicate,” Crouch asserts:

In shaping culture, nothing matters as much as action that carries symbolic weight. Sometimes this symbolic action takes the form of concrete steps, but sometimes it is simply well-chosen words and images. It may seem like our most urgent need is to make decisions, and of course we cannot neglect the decisions that are ours to make. But just as important for moving the horizons of possibility are what we say, how we say it, and even how we appear to others as we say these things. The way we communicate will shape the choices others make, and how they approach their own decision-making.

This means that all of us have a primary responsibility as leaders, as far as it depends on us, to be well-rested, soaked in prayer and contemplation, and free of personal fear and anxiety. We need to start and end each day as children of our heavenly Father, friends of Jesus, and grateful recipients of the Holy Spirit. We need to pray for genuine spiritual authority, rooted in the love that casts out fear, to guard and govern our lives as we lead, and trust that God will make up what is lacking in our own frail hearts, minds, and bodies.

The piece ends with the question “What Can We Hope For?”   He begins by stating that “[w]e have an unprecedented chance to act redemptively in the midst of crisis and fear.”  This ties back to the diagram I shared a few days ago from Praxis (and that you can find here).  From there Crouch asserts that “[w]e can reclaim the household as the fundamental unit of personhood, the place where we all are best known and cared for.”  He adds:

In this time when large gatherings have shaped our imagination of what “church” is and means, and even more so when media and celebrity have colonized all of our imaginations and made us think that true influence and value is somewhere else, we have a window of opportunity to rebuild the foundation of all real love and care — a circle of people, related to one another as brother and sister, who know and are known, love and are loved, and who move out in service to the world.

This can be an indescribable gift. And if we steward this gift well, not retreating into protective huddles but assembling in small, welcoming communities of love, we may even realize a third, most audacious hope.

That third hope is that “[w]e may see the revival of genuine Christian faith and discipleship, and the renewal of the church of Jesus Christ in the United States.”

The whole piece is a worth a read or two (and more than worth heeding on multiple ways.

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“The short of it” can be found in a recent newsletter post by Matthew Lee Anderson.  In “On Living in a Pandemic Age,” Anderson looks to the writings of C. S. Lewis and Augustine to find wisdom for the current moment.  He writes:

What if the fear that we have now, though, is itself evidence that we have feared the wrong thing all along? Consider Augustine’s exposition of Psalm 85:11 (86 in most Bibles): “Lead me in your way, Lord, and I will walk in your truth; let my heart be so gladdened as to fear your name.” We shall someday have a gladness that is free from fear, Augustine contends—but the present insecurities of this world mean that our gladness is imperfect and that fear is necessary. “If we are completely secure,” he writes, we “exult in the wrong way.” The fear of the Lord disrupts that security, by reminding us of the passing nature of this temporal world. This fear is especially important to cultivate in the midst of blessings: “Whenever our undertakings prosper, my brothers and sisters, we should be the more fearful.” This is true even of those things which “prosper for us in the affairs of Christ and true Christian charity.” Make a convert, and remember to take care. Defeat an intellectual foe, and pay heed to the present troubles. “Our rejoicing must not make us careless…” Augustine contends. “Let us not expect security while we are on pilgrimage.”

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I mentioned the bittersweet sense of ending the quarter yesterday.  I stand by that.  Regardless of what happens next, this is some kind of turning point for contemporary culture.  I like the forward thinking Crouch displays because it actually transcends what is normally thought of as “forward thinking.”  And I like Anderson’s post because it reminds us of the big picture and the wisdom of those who have been “on pilgrimage” before us.  Some journey.  Same destination.  Similar terrain.  It’s a good road to share.

This entry was posted in Faith, Internet, Life in the Fifth Act, Notes for a World's End, Scripture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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