And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts – Rev 9:20-21
The collective and extended fight against COVID-19 calls for people and the church in particular to change to ‘new lifestyle’ that will draw people to God more and to stop another surge of cases. The pre-COVID-19 world whether we like it or not is past, hence the post-pandemic ‘new normal’ is emerging, calling us to live with an eternal focus and hope. The major factor in the ‘new normal’ is the renewal and revival of home and marriage. To collectively fight against COVID-19 especially through infection clusters, major sectors of our economy landscape, worship, and entertainments lifestyles and nightlife of close contact need to be averted. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world situation, hence ‘all change-all change’ announcement provides prayer focus for the post-pandemic ‘new normal.’ Beloved, the new normal is a reminder that we are not in control.
In every crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, there are dangers and opportunities. The reflection is that in every crisis of this kind of COVID-19 pandemic is anticipating and warning of the final eschatological judgement to come, hence the need for a meaningful change in our lives as we seek God’s direction so that we can walk through life with purpose and hope again.
As discussed in the Nigerian Methodist Chaplaincy monthly Prayer vigil and Bible Study, the words “All Change, All Change” are familiar to those who travel on the trains in the United Kingdom. These words are heard when Train guards require passengers to disembark, either to change carriages/direction of travel for various operational reasons. These words are the same we hear when we consider that for many with whom we started 2020 their journeys had abruptly come to an end as a result of this invisible enemy, COVID-19. And for those who are to continue on life’s journey, “social distancing” has become a new normal, hence the journey cannot be the same.
In Revelation Chapter 9, Apostle John gave a graphic account of the plagues and concluded this account with our text for today. We are all called to repentance and to a change of heart. The position from which we begin, is “sin distancing,” as we confess our sins of omission and commission and turn away from them, “Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3: 19).
God is calling us to repent of our self-dependence and to learn to live by faith and prayer. The lockdown calls for a change as we appreciate the vital importance of home and marriage, the church community and mission, thereby gaining a renewed evangelistic heart for our nations. The COVID-19 pandemic calls for change through the healing of our homes and marriages as we deepen our family relationships and parents are more involved in the spiritual formation of their children at home. We need change as we give up our consumerism and idolatry values, and regain a habit of daily prayer and bible reading. God is calling us to appreciate the dedication and sacrifice of healthcare workers and essential workers and change from our adulation of over-paid celebrities, politicians, and sport-stars. Faced with the news and fear of death and frailty of life, God is calling us to change and appreciate the assurance of the gospel hope of resurrection and Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
The call to change is not an easy task. It will take faith and the grace of God to develop new humble mindsets, enabling relationships and environment. “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and violent people have been raiding it” (Matthew 11:12). This points us to the fact that we have a lot to contend with should we want to change our ways and become kingdom of God focused. We will therefore need to “Render your hearts and not garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and he relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:13.
Beloved, the Bible says “Whoever has ears, let them hear, what the Spirit says to the churches” and change their ways. There are those who will say they are right with God, I say congratulations “but let the one who boast, boast about this that they have the understanding to know me that I am the Lord who exercise kindness ,justice and righteousness on earth for in this I delight” ( Jeremiah 9;24). For those who are determined to change their ways, the Lord promises to go before them and level the mountains, break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron to bring you to your desired place in his kingdom. A new way of life calls for a new people.
pray that we may all disembark from sin, pride, greed; change our carriages
(Spiritual and physical) and direction of travel and lifestyle that opposes
God’s command and values.
O Lord, help me to repent of the works of my hands. Help me not to worship idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and of wood.
“All Change, All Change” – We receive conversion of souls, redemption of every evil communication and attitudes. We receive spiritual growth and increase expectation of the Second Coming of Jesus. Beloved, the headlines that ratchet up the local and global death counts are daily reminder of our mortality, forcing everyone to look beyond the routines of life and to consider what lies beyond.
O Lord help us especially the church leaders to render our hearts and not garments. O Lord, as a matter of urgency, help us to return to you as our God in truth and Spirit and look beyond our present difficulties and look out for opportunities to share the hope that we have in Jesus. O Lord in Your graciousness and compassionate heart, slow to anger and abounding in love, deliver the world from further pandemic calamity (Joel 2:13).
O Lord, I recognise myself as “Whoever has ears,” help me to hear, what the Spirit says to the churches” and change our ways. O Lord, let the churches come back to the worship of the true God and for the church leaders to speak with boldness and stand for Christ in Jesus name. O Lord, help the church to stop sacrificing kingdom work and Gospel for the ephemeral things of this world.