In this season of social distancing for most, and extreme isolation for others, as we all try to fight for faith in the face of COVID-19, I decided to share one thought a day from my daily devotional time in the hope of strengthening other’s hands in God (1 Sam 23:16), and encouraging friends forward in faith. As a pastor, who cannot gather with the people God has entrusted to His care, my hope is that these devotions, though simple, will be a small way for me to disciple people towards courage in the season of Coronavirus. You can subscribe at the bottom of the page to receive an email for each new post, and feel free to come back daily and share with anyone who might find them beneficial.
I use a reading plan that has me reading a few chapters in different parts of the Scripture for every day of the week, and so each day’s content will be dictated by the required daily reading of that plan. I will focus in on one unit of thought rather than trying to address the full scope of the day’s reading. I am trusting God that He will speak from different parts of His Word, as He always does.
Friday, March 20
Day’s Reading: Matthew 22-24
Matthew 22 to 24 are chapters of warning. Jesus warns there are people who will miss the invitation to the Kingdom of God. There are those who didn’t pay proper attention to the first arrival of the King, and there will be those who don’t pay close enough attention to the signs of the same King’s second arrival.
What struck me as particularly sobering (aside from the woes pronounced on the Pharisees in Matthew 23 which could form the content of a whole book let alone a short devotional) is the parable that Jesus opens this section with in Matthew 22:1-14. He tells a story of a king who throws a wedding feast for his son, but no one RSVP’s and not a single person shows up. This would have been the ultimate societal act of offense in that culture. Family weddings were the chance to show entire villages your prosperity and success, and in a world where everyday life was hard, they were opportunities for people to feast and to enjoy leisure and luxury like few other events of the day could possibly provide. To not go to the wedding feast of a king’s son would be insane, and yet, in the story, that is what people chose.
They weren’t paying proper attention (v5a).
They were distracted with their farms and businesses (v5b).
Some of them were wickedly only thinking of their own benefit and thinking that they needed to grab a hold of all they could get while they could (v6).
It got me thinking. How many of us are missing out on the incredible offer of the life of the Kingdom of God because we aren’t paying attention or are distracted with our own interests? We are prepared to miss the invitation to the great celebratory life because, truth be told, we think that the one that we are creating is better than the one that is on offer. I came across some research in some recent reading that spoke about how Christians are missing out on Kingdom life. We are doing it through busyness and distraction. We have chosen to embrace the limitless expectations of a secular culture, thinking that true joy lies in the hustle we see around us, and we are missing out on a feast with the King. Michael Ziggarelli conducted a survey which I read about in John Mark Comer’s excellent book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. His theory is that busyness and distraction serve as major obstacles to spiritual growth (Kingdom life). His hypothesis reads…
“It may be the case that (1) Christians are assimilating to a culture of busyness, hurry and overload, which leads to (2) God becoming more marginalized in Christian’s lives, which leads to (3) a deteriorating relationship with God, which leads to (4) Christians becoming even more vulnerable to adopting secular assumptions about how to live, which leads to (5) more conformity to a culture of busyness, hurry and overload. And then the cycle begins again.”
That sounds like a lot of us. Missing out on true life in the Kingdom, we assimilate to the life of the kingdom of this world.
Friends, one of the blessings of this global pandemic (and I don’t say that flippantly at all) is that surely it is awakening us from our slumber of self-sufficiency and constant distraction. It is a giant sign in the sky letting us know that the kingdom of this world is not as it should be. We are having our distractions stripped from us one by one, but what remains is an invitation to the wedding feast of the King’s Son.
Will we go? Are we ready?
An invitation to the kingdom life is being extended. Let’s not miss it.
Courage, dear friends. God is reinventing our lives.