What will the post-pandemic world look like? No one can predict precisely, but everyone understands the ‘new normal’ will operate differently.
Deuteronomy records that the Israelites also faced a new world order after their rescue from Egypt. For 400 years, they laboured as slaves, lacked personal freedom, and were deprived of the right to worship their God. Then, the new order ushered by Moses liberated them from slavery and gave them the freedom to choose—not to gratify their every desire, but to worship God.
When God spoke, Moses and Israel were given the choice to leave the old order of Egypt and enter the new order of his kingdom. We too have been given this choice, because God has spoken. His words edified a people about himself and established Israel to testify to his goodness among the nations. So too did Christ his Word declare the truth about himself and establish the church, endowing it with life and calling it to share the good news. In God’s ‘kingdom order’, we are to bear witness to the world about this new life in Christ.
The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before entering the promised land. God had to ‘renovate’ his people first. As they completed their ‘quarantine’, Moses pleaded:
… I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life …. (Deut 30:19–20)
God renovates us when we choose life. The process of transformation cannot be simplified. The Israelites could have reached Canaan in a week, but they took four decades. Why? Because there is no discount, no shortcut, no reaping without sowing when it comes to growth. God’s people must be wary of straying off the path of life that leads to transformation.
God renovates us when we love him. Why must we love God? Because God is our life (John 11:25; 14:6; cf. John 1:1–3; 6:68; 10:10)! Love for God motivates wholehearted obedience to his ways. Only by loving God do we love his words; only by loving God do we listen to him, rely on him, and receive the renovated life. When we love God, we taste the goodness of his words and cling to them. God is our life.
As we get ready to face the post-pandemic world, do not blindly follow the rules of the new world order. Seek God’s kingdom order first: Love the Lord, Listen to his Word, and Lean on him.
GOD GIVES HIS KINGDOM ORDER
God has given us his kingdom order, no matter what ‘new normal’ we must enter. In God’s kingdom, loving him enables us to obey his Word; obeying his Word leads to being ministered by it; being ministered allows us to testify to God’s grace. From pastors to leaders, leaders to congregations, whatever one’s age, everyone is lovingly ministered by God’s Word and empowered to bear witness to their neighbours.
The fight against the pandemic has given a picture of pastoral ministry—everyone is responsible; everyone is on the frontlines. Every church member takes part at the frontlines of ministry, so that the whole church can be ministered. There are four aspects to our participation:
- Study the Word. The church must train believers
so that, individually and with their families, they
can read the Bible carefully, reflect on their
reading, listen to sermons with discernment, and
discuss what they learn.
- Integrate knowledge and action. We must study
the Word to grasp the biblical worldview, so
that we can fully live out the abundant life in
Christ amidst our families and societies.
- Reach across generations. Intergenerational
ministering builds up Christians from different
age groups with love in the truth of God—
pastors shepherd parents, parents nurture their
children, and peers encourage one another.
- Live with a mission orientation. Everyone can
proclaim the gospel of God’s kingdom
everywhere, at home, at school, or in the
workplace. All are to bear the fruits of the Spirit,
thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold.
In the post-pandemic world, it is vital for all to be at the frontlines of mission and ministry. This is the kingdom order of God!