Ain’t No Joke No More
Written during the second week of the CoViD19 prevention implementations March 22, 2020
Yesterday I overheard a man on his phone discussing with a friend his attitude toward the severity of the virus. He said to his friend, “We got to start taking this stuff serious now. Ain’t no joke no more.” Those words hit me hard. I was one that didn’t take it serious at the beginning but had come to understand the impact the virus was having on the world. I realized that this virus is going to create a cultural change. 20 years from now we will look back and say, “We do this now because of the CoViD19 outbreak.”
Well, his words also said something else to me, “What if we had started taking this serious when it was first announced?” Think about it, if we had started taking effective action to prevent the spread of this virus back in January, would we be faced with the severity of precautions now. Go back a little further, we had a severe outbreak of influenza that resulted in over 16,000 deaths. What if we had taken that stuff serious and started doing the stuff then would we had prevented the stuff we are facing now? One more step back, what if we had been practicing good hygiene and consideration of others all along, could we have avoided both viruses? There’s no way to answer that, however, history shows that when we take proactive, positive steps toward prevention of the spread of disease, it works.
I am not a prophet and I am not saying, “God did…,” or “God did not…send this virus.” However, I do know that God has sent sickness, famine and destruction several times in the scriptures to punish or to get His people’s attention. And God is the same yesterday, today and forever. And His people have allowed ungodly practices take place in His church, we have allowed evil to take place in His church. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Let me be the first to say, “that offends me,” and I have learned that when I am offended it is usually because I am guilty.
I want to preface this next statement with the understanding that I have made a lot of people mad with it but hear me out. The church is not for the lost, it is for the believer. I am not saying, “Don’t invite your lost friends to church.” Please invite them, but don’t let that be the only place they are experiencing the love of God. But, the church is the place where God’s people are to, “devote themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42), …to prepare God’s people for works of service (Ephesians 4:12), …to warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone (1 Thessalonians 5:14), …to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing (1 Timothy 2:8), …to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)” This is just a few selections from letters written to “God’s people” concerning how we, His church, are to function.
The problem is, we have taken God’s letters to His people and tried to impose His instruction to us on the world. All the while we have allowed the world into the church and given them a pass to do whatever they desire because we may offend them, and we want to reach them for Christ. This mentality has resulted in a weak and diseased nursery school church and we need to realize, “This stuff done got serious. It ain’t no joke no more.” The church is in a place where God is telling us to, “Turn from our wicked ways (2 Chronicles 7:14), …Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first (Revelation 2:5).” We have become so inwardly focused we are not having an impact on the lost. Why are our churches empty? Because we are not going to the fields, we are not preparing, training, equipping our people to do good works. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do the good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) Isn’t it sad that the same church Paul was encouraging to continue in their strong faith is being called out for leaving their first love in Revelation. Have we left our first love?
Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” So why do we continue to allow unholy practices to reside within the church and judge the world for doing what comes natural to them. “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’” (1 Chronicles 7:9-13) Have we been obedient in lovingly handling our brothers and sisters who are willfully engaging in sin as they claim to be walking with the Lord. “If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (I John 1:6) Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2) While we know we will stumble in our journey our pursuit is to be holy and righteous. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Perfection may seem impossible but the pursuit is not.
The church must be rid of the acceptance of sin committed by its followers and become madly in love with Christ. I love the comparison Paul gives in Galatians 5:19-26, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Don’t get caught up in patting yourself on the back because you are not guilty of those deep, dark sins. How many times have we all been guilty of impurity, strife, fits of anger, enmity, jealousy? It’s bad to slip up and commit these sins and heresy to continually live in them. Paul continues on with encouragement by saying, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” In living by the Spirit, the church will be in position to experience God living through us as we obediently serve Him.
Let’s return to our first love. Let’s seek the Lord with our whole heart. “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:19-25)
It is time for the church to seek the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, body and strength. We need to confess to Him how we, His children, have failed, we are repenting and seeking His forgiveness, we are turning our hearts to You, oh God. Please, heal our land. Will you join me in this prayer?