Confusion needs clarity; complexity calls for simplicity. As our circumstances grow cloudy, we should search for the big, bright lights to guide our steps. Pastors who are working to shepherd God’s flock in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis should allow big, bright Gospel lights to guide their work. As you pray and preach and counsel and converse, use three Kingdom beacons to keep you off the rocks: Repent, Believe in the Gospel and Follow Jesus.
Mark tells us that Jesus began His public ministry with these three imperatives: Repent, Believe and Follow (Mark 1:14-18). The New Testament challenges us to make these verbs a way of life; keep on repenting, keep on believing, follow Jesus now and always. There are many things we do not know in this season of service, but these three patterns of Kingdom living abide. Now more than ever we should be mindful of each one as a lens that clarifies our work. Let’s look at them in reverse order.
Follow Jesus. How do we live and serve when so many of our patterns and practices are no longer viable? Ask the old question, “What would Jesus do?” Even better, ask the question, “What is Jesus doing?” We serve the Risen Savior. Jesus is living and active in our families, our churches and communities today. He calls us to follow Him in ministry. Work where you see Jesus working; do what you know Jesus does and walk like Jesus walked. Times have changed, but Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Follow Jesus, the Chief Shepherd, as you shepherd the flock in this unusual day. When you cannot see clearly in the darkness, Jesus does. He is the Light of the World.
Believe in the Gospel. You hear a lot of voices calling you to believe—to keep the faith. The voice of Jesus is more specific. “Believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). We are called to live with confidence that God has intervened in our dark world to establish His Kingdom through our King, Jesus. In Jesus, God is working in the world and in our lives even today, even in this day. Our God reigns! Jesus is Lord! All authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth! He has redeemed us, His people, a Kingdom of priests; and He has given us the Holy Spirit Who is comforter, teacher, sanctifier and guide. No darkness is so dense as to overcome the Light of the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What should you do in the face of this pandemic? Believe in the Gospel.
Repent. Our response to this current darkness must be more than thinking happy thoughts and working extra hard. Bring a heart of repentance to your praying, your preaching and your leading. How might the Father be using this crisis to cut, to expose, to prune and to purify? Start with the plank in your own eyes. Inside out repentance confesses sin—personal, family, congregational and national. Be humble, be honest, and be tender and ever turning to our Lord’s reproof—not stiff-necked. This could be a season of revival if the people of God respond to the hand of God with repentance.
Repent. Believe. Follow.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).