When everything else is gone, what do you have left? We are answering the question in a message that zeroed in on the essence of faith in times of crisis.
Rewind to Hebrews 12:25-29. Here we have a warning not to refuse the God who speaks. God speaks by allowing circumstances into our world and into our lives that disturb our sense of normalcy and get our undivided attention. He “shakes” things up. He allows a disruption to the normal order of things. Why? Often it is to expose the idols in our lives that we are totally unaware of.
Jesus predicted a major disruption in the life of His Jewish disciples that would cast down an idol they would never have thought of. “Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, ‘As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.’” (Luke 21:5-6)
The temple was magnificent and embodied the nation’s glory and pride. In many ways it was an object of idolatry. The Jews were more in love with the temple itself than the One to whom the temple pointed.
In talking with the woman of Samaria, Jesus foretold a day when temples would be rendered irrelevant (see John 4:21-24). No temple to worship in? No stone left upon another? What a disaster! The disciples couldn’t conceive of it. Where would they worship? Who would they be without it? What they didn’t grasp was that soon, they themselves would be the temple of the Holy Ghost. But it wouldn’t come without a shaking.
In some ways, we have returned to the days of the temple. After Pentecost, God had “temples” of flesh everywhere and He scattered them throughout the earth—often by persecution. With temples on feet, the gospel grew exponentially. But without intending to do so, we have tended towards reversing this pattern and re-centralized our mission and ministry to where everything has to be done in church buildings. And now that we are displaced from our buildings, we’re shaken.
No church to gather in? Worship at home? What a disaster! Who are we now? What is the meaning of our message and our mission? What do you do when everything else is gone?
We still have the blood of Jesus, forgiveness of sins, the companionship of the Holy Spirit, the Love of the Father, the bible, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to sing, prayer, the promises, the whole armor of God, the mind of Christ, the spirit of prophecy, the adoption of sons, and a home in heaven. Though our lives have changed in this crisis, nothing of God has changed. God is laying man’s idols in the dust that we might turn from what is worthless, and temporary to that which is priceless and eternal. He is removing what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
And it is His kingdom that cannot be shaken. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12:28-29.
The apostle John, who was exiled on Patmos, had lost all that was normal to him. A virus didn’t imprison him there, but persecution did. “If we put him on this rock,” Domitian must have reasoned, “then he’ll stop writing, preaching, teaching, and planting churches. We’ll get him away from ministry.”
You know that’s what the devil is thinking with this virus and quarantine: “If I can keep them in their homes it’ll stop everything.” But he doesn’t realize that only those who have experienced Jesus can endure a Patmos where all you have left is Jesus. And if all you have is Jesus what exactly do you have? John found out one Sabbath day while in prayer. Rewind to Rev. 1:12-18.
They couldn’t put John any place where Jesus couldn’t find him! Wherever you think Jesus couldn’t possibly be, there He is in the middle of it all. The lampstands represent the churches and Christ was among them. Christ doesn’t abandon His church, and He hasn’t abandoned us.
If you feel you’re on your own Patmos these days, know that Christ is with you. He says “Don’t be afraid, I was God before the crisis and I am God in the crisis, and I will be God long after the crisis. I have the keys to this situation and you have nothing to fear.”
Pastor Randy Maxwell