Finding the Kingdom During Covid 19

Finding the Kingdom During Covid 19

March 2020

I sat with a towel twisting my wet hair up on our bed, back in our master, while our worship pastor, our children’s director and my husband sat no more than 10 yards away and I listened to their honest, pure, worship. Tears began to fill behind my eyes and threatened to stream down my face. The words that rang throughout my house were, “You are making all things new…” And yet, as I sat in bed with a fever and a desperation to heal quicker, I knew and loved that my church was still being a church.

In the Confusion

This time with the craziness of Covid-19 has been a whirlwind or as some have referred to as being like the movie, Groundhog’s Day… over and over. Social media has gone RIDICULOUS with people now having free time to spout off their thoughts and ideas about the situation (I’ve seen an immense amount of good come out of our situations) but this morning… I could just be… and listen… and softly sing to my King while no one watched. Honestly, I could barely get the words out. Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to amidst all of this chaos and disorder:

  • I’ve found peace where once my heart was jumbled and stressed.
  • I’ve been able to breathe, really breathe in, and experience pure joy with my kids daily.
  • I’ve been able to dig into Scripture and geek out to the possibilities I find there.
  • I’ve been able to worship with no one watching.
  • I’ve been able to spend time reaching out to my church family more regularly to ask for or pray for them.
  • I’ve watched my kids settle in and just be… without the crazy amount of time constraints they used to have.
  • I’ve been able to see all of my church family’s faces via Zoom and laugh with them.
  • I’ve watched our church family come together in a tighter knit community to support and love on each other even virtually.

Chaos and the Church

It’s not the same… we can’t meet together collectively. It’s not normal… we aren’t allowed to worship together in the same room anymore. It’s not even similar… we are spending church virtually instead of spending next to flesh and blood. But here’s the thing… we are meeting separately… but we are together in spirit.

We’ve got to let go our our stubbornness… our resentment for how things were handled… our need to want things our way… and move into a time of healing, rest, and thankfulness that we live in a time and age where we can still meet- even if virtually.

I think back to one of the first Sunday’s after Jesus’ death. We find the disciples and Jesus’s followers spread out all over the city of Jerusalem… hiding. Some followers had even left the city and were headed home to Emmaus. But when Jesus finally appears to them in Luke 24, they think he’s a ghost. They can’t even believe he’s back!

The Kingdom they thought was coming… didn’t.

The life they thought Jesus had alluded to- was completely upside down.

I mean- the guy they’d been following around had been preaching of a new Kingdom… and then, whelp, he was killed. And now, they were huddled in a house, just waiting for something and thinking that there was no way this Kingdom was going to happen anymore.

“Then he said to them, “Don’t you remember the words that I spoke to you when I was still with you? I told you that everything written about me would be fulfilled, including all the prophecies from the law of Moses through the Psalms and the writings of the prophets—that they would all find their fulfillment.”  He supernaturally unlocked their understanding to receive the revelation of the Scriptures,  then said to them, “Everything that has happened fulfills what was prophesied of me. Christ, the Messiah, was destined to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.  Now you must go into all the nations and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins so that they will turn to me. Start right here in Jerusalem.  For you are my witnesses and have seen for yourselves all that has transpired. And I will send the fulfillment of the Father’s promise to you. So stay here in the city until the mighty power of heaven falls upon you and wraps around you.”

Here’s what’s crazy about us humans: we think we’re soooo smart. The disciples thought it was all over when their Savior was killed (and who’s to say we wouldn’t have thought the same?) They thought the Kingdom that Jesus preached, would never rise up. And yet, it did.

The Kingdom is happening around us. I’m seeing it in the faces of people who are selflessly dropping off food on our porch so that my husband doesn’t have to scramble to make dinner for all of us after taking care of us all day. I hear it in the voices worshipping from my living room. I receive it from the texts and social media messages that encourage and build me up with promises of prayer and healing. I read about it through the words of my King in scripture. I feel the Kingdom when I pray while weeping when no one is watching. It is all around us. God is with us.. even when we feel like church isn’t normal. The Kingdom is here… do you feel it?

Cancer in a Plant. And Its Cure.


It is the stuff that grows right under our noses without even a shout or snicker to alert us to its presence.  It morphs and grows into killer potential but still stays silent.  Waiting.  Just waiting for the church to discover it.

We, however, continue to ebb and flow in life… picking up forgotten communion bread, grabbing a last minute bite to eat, heading to the soccer fields for yet another practice in the rain.  We have no clue that something is lurking behind the folds of another person’s skin.  Life continues… and the cancer grows.

Months go by and everything on the surface level seems fine.  Smiles.  Laughter.  Positivism.  And yet… something seems to be missing.  An occasional harsh word erupts… and is excused due to stress…. or a bad job situation… or tiredness.  People begin to notice that something is not quite right.

It is not until questions are raised that cancer is even suspected.  And when those questions leave the lips of the person asking, just be ready for the cancer diagnosis.  Almost immediately, you will be shamed with evidence of the cancer that has been growing inside them for awhile.

The kind of cancer I’m speaking of begins as distrust.  It morphs and grows into bitterness and anger and will reveal itself as rage.  The person affected with cancer will begin to affect others’ opinions and soon the cancer will spread.

If you do not remove the cancer, your church will begin to die.  (Notice, I did not say to remove the person!)

Hebrews 12:15 says:

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…

I love that the first part of that verse emphasizes that no one should fail to obtain the grace of God.  

But… the author is asking the Church to do this task.  We need to be diligent in making sure that those who walk through our doors and claim to love Jesus, really do understand and have the grace of God.  Without this, bitterness will grow and “cause trouble.”

Ephesians 4:31 also reads to us individually:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

I know that I myself have struggled with all of these.  And to think, that a small amount of any one of these things can spring up and grow cancer.  Enough to destroy a entire church.

So, in our churches, how do we cure cancer?  I think 2 Corinthians 13:11 has something to say about it.

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!  Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace with be with you!

This one verse has what I would call a step by step plan for reconciliation.

Cure It

First: Aim to Restore

We must try to repair our relationships with those who have bitterness or anger growing for us.  Luke 17 give us a clear picture of what Jesus expected from others.  He first asks for us to pay close attention to ourselves,  and then go to the person and confront them.  When and if, they admit to their bitterness, anger and ask for forgiveness, we need to forgive them.  Even if they are repeat offenders: forgive, forgive, forgive.  We need to always try to restore a person to spiritual health, no matter the offense.

If you are one that shies away from conflict… you’re going to have to get over it.  We are imperfect humans… and at one point or another, we will hurt others and others will hurt us.  The best advice I have ever received in confronting someone was to go in to the situation with a humble spirit.  We need to be able to admit our weaknesses and do what it takes to amend if we have offended one another.  We cannot and will not know the peace of God, until we are restored with each other.

Second: Comfort One Another

How do we comfort one another after conflict?  When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, he had some advice when a believer caused some strife.  2 Corinthians 2:5-8 reads:

I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.

We do not want to cause other believers to become discouraged when we have a disagreement with them.  The New International Version of that scripture translates it into “excessive sorrow.”  How many times have we been discouraged by things that have “gone down” in a church, that we become discouraged and leave?  We should never want that.

It may still be difficult to comfort someone who has hurt you.  But Paul had a few ideas about where to get started with this.  He pointed to Christ’s example:

Philippians 2:1-3

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

We must look to Christ to be an example about how to love others.  We cannot comfort, if we do not love.

Third:  Agree with One Another

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth because they were having some major relationship problems.  He addresses it almost immediately at the beginning of his letter to them.  Here it is in the Message:

1 Corinthians 1:10

10 I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.

He is asking them to “cultivate a life in common.”  What does that mean for us as Christians?  Paul points to his “main point” towards the end of the chapter.

26-31 Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

We are not perfect.  We are not Jesus.  We cannot expect our fellow believers to be perfect either.  As Paul states, “Everything that we have (our thinking and living), the fact that we get to start anew, is because of Christ.”  If we can’t agree with that… than what can we agree with?  We need to agree that we are here to show God off to the world.  And we can start by finding things we agree with.

Fourth:  Live in Peace

This may be the hardest step to live by.  We, as humans, have always had in issue with keeping the peace.  Nations have warred against nations, tribe against tribe, man against man.  We are bent, by sin, to be self-centered people.  So, how do we avoid this?

1 Thessalonians 5:12-18 gives us some great guidelines to follow.

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idleand disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

The last three are probably the ones that I struggle with the most.  Am I always rejoicing?  (Even when my mother is diagnosed with breast cancer?  When I drop a glass lamp that was handed down to me by my Grandma who now has Alzheimer’s?  Am I rejoicing when I know that I will never measure up to my own standards of motherhood?)  No, I’m not.

Do I pray continually?  Man- I wish.  I do talk more frequently with God than I did a year ago… but continually?  Still working on that.

Do I give thanks… in ALL circumstances?  Definitely not.  This probably goes hand in hand with rejoicing always.  I know I have a lot of work to do when it comes to living in peace with others.

I know that by following Paul’s advice to restore relationships in your church, you will build back those relationships.  I know, because I’ve seen it happen many times.

But what do you do if nothing happens?  What if they continue to grow in their bitterness and anger, or worse yet- are unable to forgive you?

Jesus actually gave his disciples advice about this.  He knew that they were going to have to deal with this often, as we all know that humans are indeed imperfect.  He laid out another step-by-step plan in how to address it.  (Matthew 18:15-17)

No matter what the outcome- keep at it.  At the end of 2 Corinthians 13:11, Paul reminds us that: “the God of love and peace with be with you!”  We need to remember that God is with us.  His Love and Peace will be there for us.  We must keep loving God and loving others.