“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...” - Matthew 28:19
Seems odd, doesn’t it? At a time where we are being told to “stay” and self-isolate we simultaneously are given a Bible verse that tells us to “go.” This is a dichotomy the church has wrestled with throughout history. From the Justinian Plague ravaging the Byzantine Empire in 541AD, to Typhus Fever spawning out of World War I, to the Cholera Pandemics, the Church has a long history of deciding when to stay safe and to carry out the Christian mission.
In the first chapter of Acts, the writer, Luke, retells the story of Jesus’ ascension. After he rises up into the clouds and is out of sight, the disciples, now apostles (those who are sent), are effectively staring up at the sky with their mouths hinged open widely. It’s kind of funny to picture, but we would probably have been there joining them in the ensemble of surprised looks. As he goes, two angels appear and say to them, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
In times of global crisis, questions begin to arise within the church about whether or not this is the end times. Is this it? Is Jesus coming back? But take a look at history and you will see that the church is no stranger to bizarre events. The command, however, is clear: make disciples. Do not be distracted in trying to predict the end, but look back to Christ’s promises, live in the present, and share the Good News in a hurting world.
During a pandemic, that world gets a lot smaller. We tread carefully, not wanting to catch something ourselves or, worse, pass it on to someone more susceptible. How then do we live out the Great Commission? In baptism, we make a covenant with Christ to welcome Him as Lord not only of our lives but of our homes. If God has blessed us with loved ones, family, and friends, then He has also tasked us with our own, personal mission field. While that does not replace the global mission, it does provide a focus in this season of isolation. If kids are off from school, work through an entire book of the Bible with them. Start a devotional as a family, sing hymns together, and call loved ones and pray with them over the phone. Isolation should never stop us from making disciples. Practices may shift, but the objective never changes.
Prayer: God our healer and sustainer, show us what it means to be a covenant household. Remind us of our responsibilities to our families. Guide us in teaching them how to love You with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Write your promises on the hearts of your church. In the midst of this season, keep us safe, nourish us, but never let us forget Your call to make disciples. We love you, trust you, and put our hope in you now and forever. Amen.