Part 4 - What are the Right Questions?

The End of Church as we know it?
Part 4 - What are the Right Questions?
By: Randall Mooney, Th.D.
Sunday, April 12, 2020
Easter Sunday

What have we learned so far? Many of us have learned to fear. Or should I say we’ve learned how much fear we already have. What does fear look like? It has many different looks for each of us. Fear comes with torment. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18). And we should also know, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). Fear cripples the mind and body. When we surrender to fear we cease to function the way God intended – in love and with a sound mind.

Yesterday I left the house to go help a friend with some home repairs. It was 9:30 am, Saturday morning in Houston, Texas. Normally an extremely busy time of the week. As I drove the empty highway, it literally made me feel uneasy because there were so few cars on the road with me. I almost felt like I was doing something wrong by being there. I also saw most every business was closed, and all the parking lots were empty. It was like the world had disappeared. It reminded me of some Twilight Zone episode. How could the fourth largest city in America be this still? Where did all the people go? Why are they missing? I literally said aloud to myself, “This is what fear looks like!” Then I started to think, what did the streets of Jerusalem look like the morning after Jesus was crucified.

Jesus’ crucifixion had not been a typical execution. Even the Roman leader facilitating the sham believed the man was innocent, whether he believed him to be a king or not. And I’m sure his wife’s warning words to steer clear, haunted him for days to come. Joseph had gotten the body off the cross before the beginning of the Sabbath, and into his own personal tomb. Despite being the Sabbath, the same Jewish leaders insisting on his sentence, ventured back to the Romans to request that guards be placed at the tomb for prevention. Of what? Theft or resurrection? They feared both. While many of the Jewish faithful kept the Sabbath, the streets still had plenty of traffic as a result of all the others in the city conducting business as usual. I’m sure there was much chatter and anxiousness on the lips and hearts of those thinking about the day before and the events leading to Jesus’ death. The disciples had gone into hiding. I’m fairly certain they were afraid for their safety and their lives. What if the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers came after them next? Many of them had given up everything they owned to follow Jesus. What were they to do now? For some bystanders, the so-called believers of the Way, were just a cult following a fake Messiah that would need to be dealt with later.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary had stayed close to the sepulcher. Their hearts broken over the tragic loss of their Savior. He had to be the one. They had bet their lives on it. The chief priests had secured the guards they wanted for the next three days. Did they believe there just might be something to his claim? Why would they be afraid of someone they claimed not to believe? Now talk about fear. When the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, rolled back the stone and sat on it, there was a great earthquake. The guards were shaken to their core and fell to the ground like dead men. How could the guards, having witnessed such power, still be bribed not to tell? Obviously, they told someone. The angel told the women not to be afraid as they looked in the tomb for their friend. Then he proclaimed to them, “He is not here because He is risen. Go quickly and tell his disciples that He is risen from the dead.” And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and ran to bring His disciples word of His resurrection. (Matthew 28:7,8)  As they ran to report the news, people were fearfully looking around the city for signs of physical damage and to see if any were injured from the great earthquake.

Jesus’ disciples had often come to Him with questions. But Jesus had a way of answering the questions they should have been asking. We certainly live in a time with many questions in mind. But are we asking the right questions? What will happen to me if I lose my job? What will happen if I get the virus? What will happen if the economy collapses? When will I get to go back to work? When will I be able to go back to church? When can we go out to eat, or go to a game, or travel? When will everything get back to normal?

Here’s the problem with wrong questions. What if everything had gone back to normal after Jesus died on the cross and was buried in the ground? What if He failed to raise from the dead and ascend to the Father? Then all of us would still be dead in our sins without hope of redemption. Likewise, the question is not, why a God of love would allow something like this virus to bring the entire world to a screeching halt. The question is, why the human race of a loving God would not cry out to Him for healing, salvation and protection, from an attack that is clearly out of their control to overcome. The fact is that regardless of the situation and its effect on us, God does make a way. “And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure (1 Corinthians 10:13).

I keep asking what we have learned so far. There are many great things happening as a result of this global pause. Creative ways to stay in touch with the faithful via internet and electronic means, demonstrates commitments to stay in fellowship with one another. More people profess to praying than ever before. Many are quoting verses in the Bible. But are the prayers and the verses producing the kind of fruit that shows our hearts are broken and contrite before God? We read the scriptures about turning from our wicked ways, but have we really turned from our wicked ways? Worse yet, do we even believe we have any wicked ways to turn from, or have we forgotten that all have sinned and fallen short. God not only provided the way; He lovingly waits for us to turn to Him in sincere repentance so He can change our lives forever. The right question is, “Lord Jesus, can you forgive my sins and come into my heart?” His answer is undoubtedly, “Yes, I have, and I will.”

There is still much to learn. What have we learned so far?


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