Yesterday when I was standing in line to return something at Hobby Lobby, I had a conversation with the lady in front of me. Among other things she said, “I suppose with this Omicron variant, we can expect to get locked down again.” “I certainly hope not,” I said - “but I think this is going to become a way of life; I really do not know what people do without faith in God…..” Back and forth we went. “Oh well, if locked down again, I will thoroughly clean my house,” she said. “The only time I really clean is when we are locked down,” she chuckled. Hmmm….
Locked down. Repressive words with a visceral response. Huh- Meanwhile, back to my brother Paul…can we learn from him on this matter? Paul is locked down in Jerusalem on trumped up charges. Then he is taken up to Caesarea where he is ‘tried’ in front of Felix, the governor, who hears Paul’s testimony, and makes no decision--either on the problem of Paul or the Messiah Paul speaks of, but detains Paul for two years. Paul locked down again. At such time, Festus replaces Felix as governor, and thinks to have Paul taken back to Jerusalem to be tried before the Jewish officials. Paul knows the danger of that and he also knows his rights as a Roman citizen--to appeal to Caesar. King Agrippa comes out to the coast to the beautiful Caesarean port on the Mediterranean, to pay his respects to the new governor, Festus; he asks to hear from the ‘prisoner’ Paul. And so Paul once again - but in even greater detail - describes his upbringing as a righteous, educated Jew (a Pharisee, no less) and then goes on to describe his radical transformation when he comes to understand Jesus as the fulfillment of the Jewish prophecies - the very Messiah God’s people have been awaiting! Your attention please: Can you give a quick bio of yourself? From time to time, I get asked for my ‘bio’ - to be considered as a speaker or teacher for an event. Oh, and if asked, can you explain why you believe in Jesus Christ? You see, I truly believe we should have a ready answer to “So, why are you a Christian? Or why are you not worried? Why do you have peace in the middle of this chaos?” hmmm…back to Paul. Neither Felix, nor Festus, nor King Agrippa found Paul guilty, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.” Acts 26.31b However, Paul requested a hearing before Caesar in Rome, and so they have to get Paul to Rome. locked down for two years in Caesarea, unfairly for sure, but Paul uses every opportunity to share the truth and the ultimate hope in his Savior. If we are locked down again, how about you--what good thing will you do? My Hobby Lobby friend said she would clean… you? I mean we can wring our hands, we can complain, we can fret about the future or we can choose to do good. Of course, there are some constructive, creative choices - like taking an on-line class or taking up knitting or gardening… but what about crafting a good response to give away your faith to those you encounter who are hurting or afraid? ‘May have nothing to do with variants or the like, but wouldn’t it be amazing to share the peace you have with another? Decades ago, in one of the darkest times in my life, I memorized Jesus words, as though he spoke them just to me, when in fact he was talking to his disciples on that Thursday night in Jerusalem. He looked at them and said these words and right now he is looking at you and saying them--are you listening? Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives give I to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14.27 Determine now to be a light if there is another lockdown; make your decision before encountering an unpleasant neighbor at a holiday party; decide how you will speak life to the one whose eyes are clouded with pain. Just as Paul did, I charge you: give them Jesus. People all around you are looking for peace. Peace, one beautiful song by Michael McDonald and Michael W. Smith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm2T8Xqbt6A With love and peace, Christine