7 July 2020

Careful and Confident

In so many areas of Christian living we need to have a sense of balance. Balance is when we don’t go too far in one direction, where we hold to a line that is right.

As many restrictions on our way of life have been lifted and as some remain in place, particularly the social distancing, there is a danger that we can lose a sense of balance in one of two ways. First of all there are those who think that this is all a bit silly and the government has gone too far and so we respond by ignoring the rules and guidance that is in place, doing what is right in our own eyes and complaining about the authorities. But on the other hand there are those who are terrified of leaving the house for any reason and are too scared to the point of lacking trust in God. I think all of us have a sinful tendency to fall more on one side of that line than the other.

But the Bible addresses both of those responses by telling to both be careful and to be confident in how we live our lives. 

Be Careful

At some point in the not too distant future we will return to our series on the 10 Commandments. The last command before lockdown was the command “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). As we see this command fleshed out in the Old Testament law, we see that it is a call to honour life. As Christians we want to uphold the sanctity of life for every person made in the image of God from the unborn to the elderly; every image bearer of God is precious and a unique creation of God. This also includes self care (when the Bible commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves there is an assumption that there is a kind of righteous self love, which we can see as self care). Therefore, in a public health situation where the governments aim is to protect life, Christians need to live carefully and in such a way that honours life. 

What does this look like? At the moment this means following the guidelines that the government have put in place, submitting to authority as we are commanded in Romans 13. This looks different for some of us; for example, some need to shield because of age or underlying health conditions. But for all of us this means adhering to the social distancing requirements and other rules in public places, including church when we are able to return this weekend.

However, there is another side to this balancing act. Some need to heed the call to be careful but being careful can be taken too far. The Bible also calls us to be confident.

Be Confident

I have some news for you: unless Jesus returns first, you are going to die and you cannot do anything about that fact. It may not be of coronavirus but all of our days are numbered. In fact the Bible tells to think about this in Psalm 90:12:

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom

Being aware of our mortality and the brevity of life should cause us to use our time wisely, living day by day for God’s glory. And as we live our lives we do so under the hand of God who has ordained how many days we have. Psalm 139:16 says: 

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

Furthermore, Jesus tells us not to worry about our life because we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and cares for us (Matthew 6:25-34).

Knowing that our days are numbered, that God has already decided the time of our death and until then continues to care for us means that we ought to live confidently. We don’t need to be scared or anxious about getting sick; we are called, yes to be careful, but to live confidently. As well as a sinful lack of care for life, there is a sinful fear of death.

What does being confident look like? It actually looks exactly the same as being careful! We adhere to the guidelines the government has given us and do so confidently, trusting God.

Be careful and be confident - while this is so much on our minds at the moment I would encourage you to check yourself and think which side of this you tend to lose balance and then re-align accordingly.

Finally, as a church we are in a situation where some will feel that they can’t come to church and some that can. We must not judge our brothers and sisters but pray that all of us would get this balance right. And we also need to pray that the day would soon come when we can all gather again carefully and confidently to the glory of God.

With love,