Is God Testing Us? · Heritage UMC

Is God Testing Us?

Thursday, March 26 2020 by Matt Horan

This article may seem premature, but it’s important to clarify the decision making process we will use when the date nears for us to restart on campus activities at Heritage United Methodist long before we begin to speculate about it.

Just as there has been debate–oddly enough along political party lines, of all things–over how bad the COVID-19 Coronavirus really is, I anticipate that there will also be debate about how quickly life should “return to normal.”  I assure you, there will be disagreement on the pace of reopening.

Business owners–and their laid-off employees–will want restrictions lifted quickly.  Kids want their lives to return to normal soon–as do their parents! Summer camps will want to open, tourist destinations will want people to start travelling, restaurants will want people to start ordering food, and incumbent politicians of either political party will surely want life to be better so that a nation of miserable voters with change on their minds is not what heads into the voting booth this November.

I hope for your support when this decision is made at Heritage.  Some may desire for us to return to normal operation more quickly, and I can already imagine that some may be tempted to make that return date a measure of how much faith we have that God would protect us from the virus–the earlier we return, the more faith we must have.

We too often fail to measure our faith well.  Faith isn’t gambling. Faith isn’t being reckless and hoping that God will keep us from getting hurt.  Faith isn’t permission to be foolish with the expectation that we’ll escape the consequences of our foolishness.

Faith is hearing God’s call to love, and trusting that overcoming the barriers to love are worth overcoming.  Faith is serving others, believing that it’s better to serve others than ourselves–even if no one notices what we did and we get nothing for it in return.  Faith is taking the steps for us to become more like Jesus, trusting that it’s better to be more like Jesus today than we were yesterday, even if we’re not sure exactly what effect it might have on tomorrow.

Yes, there are places in the world where the church is persecuted, and it is dangerous to have faith in Jesus Christ.  Yes, people have even been martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ. Yes, people have lost their lives sacrificing for the welfare of others.  I don’t diminish their sacrifice, their courage, or their faith in the least. They took a stand in the face of real evil–a costly, sacrificial stand.

Social distancing to stop the spread of the Coronavirus is not a fight against evil.  Evil is a conscious choice by a human being to serve themselves instead of someone else.  Viruses aren’t making conscious choices any more than hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, or avalanches do.  With all my heart I want Heritage to fight against evil. I want us to fight against social structures that create homelessness, child abuse, abuse against women, human trafficking, racism, sexism, sexual abuse, and drug addiction.  Against these, I want us to be brave. Opposing these is worth the risk. If we have to face danger in order to get rid of them, it’ll be worth it, because these are evil.

Remember that Satan used Psalm 91–the one many of us are reading repeatedly right now–as a part of his tempting of Jesus.  Jesus’ response was not to jump off the top of the Temple and trust that God wouldn’t let him be splattered on the ground. His reply to Satan was, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”  

I trust we can all testify to times in which God has come through for us in the past.  We don’t need to put him through any tests, and we certainly don’t need to use our faith in him to get our normal life back as quickly as we’d like.  Therefore, we will resume in-person activities when it is wise to do so, trusting that a decision made to keep our congregation healthy is always a good one.  –MH

Matt Horan
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who is Heritage?

Heritage is a United Methodist Church in Clearwater, FL with the goal of loving those around us, equipping leaders with roles that require their unique abilities, and inviting everyone into a life changing relationship with Jesus.

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