In Search of the One
One of the overlooked impacts of the COVID-19 virus is how it creates isolation. I’ve spoken to numerous people both inside our church as well as outside, and the consensus is how difficult this pandemic is on our emotional and mental well-being. With the length of the pandemic uncertain, each of us are struggling to find ways to stay grounded in our faith and maintain relationships with people who are important to us.
During the month of October, I’ll be preaching a three Sunday series on three parables of Jesus from Luke 15. These stories are known as the “Parable of the Lost Sheep” the “Parable of the Lost Coin” and the “Parable of the Lost (Prodigal) Son. These three stories each emphasize a core theological truth: God cares about lost people. God cares about the lost person. Jesus was trying to explain this truth to the religious people of the day who couldn’t understand why Jesus spent time with “tax collectors and sinners.”
This is an important lesson for us to hear during this pandemic. The isolation and angst brought about by this seemingly endless season of COVID tests our resolve and faith in the Lord. We need to recognize the tremendous investment that God has made in us, and God is a loving God who seeks out the one who has lost his/her way.
If God cares about the individual that much, then the church should be a place and a people who welcome the wayward sinner back into the fold. One of the sad realities of the virus is the increasing separation among people of faith. Many churches (ours included) offer worship “online” in an effort to keep their people connected to each other. We hear a lot about maintaining “social distance” in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. But, I think it is more accurate to emphasize the need to be physically distant without being spiritually distant from God and the church.
There have already been articles talking about the possibility that 1/3 of regular church going persons are never going to return to the church. This is a sobering and shocking statistic, and I believe (sadly) that this could be correct. Church attendance, prayer, giving, worship, and fellowship are habits (spiritual disciplines!), and when we don’t practice them regularly then they tend to fall by the wayside.
I hope you’ll join me this month for this sermon series. Anytime we can gather around the words of Jesus, it’s a good thing. I’ll look forward to seeing you in person or online over the next several weeks. Thanks for your faithfulness–DC