In times of transition… it is unclear where you are headed, but it also clear you cannot go back to where you have been. Transitions are times in-between. What is clear about a time of transition is that God first does a deeper work in those who believe, in order to do a wider work in those who do not.
Take for example John 20 and Peter.
When confronted by Jesus with three questions that all seemed the same, yet were different… the context of that challenge was Peter and the boys going fishing (John 21:1-3) the night before. Today’s pulpits have a done a good job declining the Greek words for “love” in verses 15-17, but my fear is that we have gotten the words right, yet may be close to missing the point.
“Peter, do you love me?”
In the context of that moment… and in the life of that leader… this question struck to a nerve in Peter and the issue of trust. Would Peter go back to what he knew and that which he could control, or would he move into the unknown? Fishing was the world he knew… life beyond Christ on earth… and the new thing that was about to happen… he did not know.
Peter… do you love me… Peter do you trust me.
It’s out of the box. We are in a transition. The question now in front of us is similar. Will we go back to what was and what we have known in terms of how we did church and ministry? Or will we go on from here and into that which is new and different… a new work of God. New forms… new ways… new expressions… all up ahead, unless we go back. There is such a strong pull to return, even when we acknowledge that what has been is broken and failing.
We are in route to a new place, and the Good Shepherd is leading. Good Shepherds take their sheep to new pastures. They do not allow them to starve and die of thirst. Good shepherds care for the sheep Good Shepherds are leaders. They do what’s required for their sheep to make it to the new pasture. Jesus told us that his sheep hear his voice and follow him. (John 10)
God is not the source of the death and pain that so many have experienced. But what is clear from history, and of little doubt today, God uses moments like these to shape His people. He uses people… events and circumstances. These are moments when the transformation is launched and the metamorphosis into the new begins. Personal renewal precedes and helps to catalyze corporate change.
Here are FIVE POSTURES that seed and produce transformation. Each fits the moment we find ourselves in. They are ways God begins to first work in His people in such a time as this:
Joseph was invited out of the prison to serve in ways not imagined… the wanderings in the wilderness by Moses and the people came to an end as they stood at the door of a promised land… Elijah’s death to self and sovereign perspective returned as he moved beyond the cave… Paul gained new spiritual eyes after the encounter in the road toward Damascus, and was sent to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. Each (and more) experienced a time of transition. Each were part of a country or people in transition. And each was transformed to be apart of a new move and work of God!
We end with verses that led up to the time of the cross:
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. — John 12:24-27
What will be different?
Will we insist on clinging to the familiar and the normalcy we once found comfort in, or will we lean into this moment, and experience God in new ways? Will we align with him and his purposes or chose to go back?
What will life look like post-COVID-19?