23 May A Time To Slow Down
One of the things that COVID-19 has compelled us to learn involuntarily is to slow down. Now, think about what could be the most detrimental culture a first world nation has done to us. Some say it’s a post-modernist thinking, some say it’s materialism, decline of kinship, some say its overconsumption, inequality, or growing atheism, now you can have a whole list of that, but one big problem, which I could identify is our lack of time. And this could be one key problem that could have intensify those problems that are mentioned earlier.
So if you are wondering why post-modernist thinking could be getting so prevalent, where people start believing they all possess truths in their own hearts, that’s simply because there are a whole lot of information and ideas put out, and people are just taking in blindly without having the time to sift out what really holds true. It could be an idea about the existence of God, it could be about marriage, it could be about success, I mean people have no time to think and struggle through those issues, and they start listening to what their deceiving hearts tell them. In a city like ours, we could see people just stressed out from work, made to work like robots, and they have no time for their family, no time even for healthy proper meals. So we spend money to go for exotic trip as a form of de-stress. We swipe our handphones for hours at night to wind down. And increasingly, we are in a culture where people are just going for quick fix. Say if you want a date, find it through Tinder. If you want some edification, get a 3 mins devotion from the internet.
So you see, COVID-19 has caused us to inevitably slow down. It has kind of “forced” us to have simple meals with our family, and to even do simple things together with them. For instance, cook a meal with your loved ones. Be involved with your children’s learning. Spend time communicating. Or get interested in the video games that your children are playing. I mean, time give room for you to do that. Time give room for you to think through relationships and issues.
Testimony: As a pastor, I realized I was so busy with ministries all these years. With a local church to pastor, and frequent overseas speaking engagement, I find that I have not much time to self-study. Or even if I intently read into the Word of God, I find that I need time to reflect upon it and confirm deeper. And honestly, I pitied minister who doesn’t even have time to read and reflect upon the Word, and all they do in church is programs after programs, running shows, organizing activities, doing outreach, I mean these things may be needed, but I’ve met many ministers in my life where their joy and faith have been consumed with all those non-stop activities in the church. And I’ve met pastors who have no message to preach when they are on the pulpit, and what they do is they’ll go handpick up a few verses and get a few ideas from popular speakers and deliver a slip shot message on Sunday. Preaching was always a dreadful thing for them. And you will see they breed a congregation who only gets high with activities and programs in the church, rather than building their faith through a time of consistent, weekly true worshipping in truth and spirit.
So this COVID-19 has kind of put a stop to all the external glamour of the church. It effectively put a stop to the hype and buzz created through creative church activities, but it directs everyone to solitude. It provoked the minister’s conscience to ask: “What is the gospel? Does your congregation truly know the Gospel?” It provoked the believers to ask: “What is your knowledge of the Bible? Do you enjoy a time of solitude with the Lord? Can you even bless the people closest to you?”
Now my brethren, a busy life could have created in us blind spots, especially with regard to our spiritual life. Now honestly, if we think that this time of lock down or circuit breaker is a waste of time. It’s frustrating. Now, let me say that this could be one of the most important window period God is giving you and your family. God is rebuilding your faith. God is rebuilding your family. And God could be healing you of a restless spirt that is made worse by this world and Era you’re living in. Now, I am going to give you two verses today for you to think through with regard to slowing down.
The first verse is a popular verse which I hope you could memorize it.
<1 John 2:17>. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
Now my brethren, let me encourage you with this verse. Spend this time to do a reflection. If your mind has been clouded with whatever that is material and temporal, this is a good time to think through what are you running for? Think thru the motives and intentions that is driving your lives, can it last? Can they stand in the presence of the Lord? Time will tell you how these things fade. In fact, time will show you why God’s truth matters, not the superficial things in life, nor the changing feelings you have. In case you’ve been running too fast mindlessly, take time to reflect through.
And if you’re a minister or server before the Lord. I like you to take time to reflect also. Have your service to the Lord or the church edify your inner soul? Now, you may be busy with a lot of things. You may be finding recognition and satisfaction from the ministries that you’re driving. Let me point you to the familiar story of Mary and Martha.
If you could turn with me to <Luke 10:40-42>: But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Now, what do you make out of this? Is the Lord telling us to stop all our ministries? Is the Lord saying mundane task in the church is needless? Nope. Our Lord Jesus didn’t suggest that? But the Lord is flagging out a kind of busyness which lacks the edification through His Word. If you have been so preoccupied with the many ministries in the church and did not root yourself in the gospel, jealousies and frustrations will come in your way in church ministries. Honestly, I’ve seen so many capable ministers in my life. They are usually busy serving the Lord. They are usually effective and always in charge of situations. Well yes, the church needs capable ministers, but drawing from this verse, I think our Lord Jesus wants a gospel centric minister who knows how to draw strength from the Lord and to serve with both faithfulness and joy. Now slow down and reflect through your service to the Lord and His people.