We shall not live as “Prisoners but as Colonists.”
That is the phrase C.S. Lewis once used in his book “The Problem of Pain” to speak about the church’s approach to the suffering of the world. It is to us to plant the flag of the kingdom of God in a world that looks into itself – we are to be the people of hope, love, faith and grace as we follow Jesus, and not feel bound by the threats that this world inevitably brings against our well-being.
Lewis once wrote about being the people of God in a nuclear age during wartime. If we replace “nuclear age” with “virus” in his words (see Annie Holmquist, “How CS Lewis Would Tell Us to Handle Coronavirus,” www.intellectualtakeout.org) we read:
“If the [virus] comes let it find us doing sensible and human things – praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing children, play tennis, chatting with our friends. – not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about the [virus]. It may break our bodies but it need not dominate our minds.”C.S. Lewis, “On Living in an Atomic Age” in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays
While, these days, we make sure to be “socially distant” from one another in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we can take Lewis’ words to heart as a modern day call: “It may break our bodies but it need not dominate our minds.” That’s right, as Christ Followers, our minds are to be dominated by Jesus’ will and way in the world. As “colonists” of his kingdom work we will plant the flag of his love in the world!
- Love for God — As we continue to feed our spiritual formation in days of isolation through spiritual disciplines in His presence.
- Love for Neighbors — As we renew our commitment to reach out and connect with people though via a different pace and approach as before while keeping our distance so as not to spread disease.
- Love for Yourself — As we give ourselves space to grieve what we have lost from what we love best in our routines, grieve what we know to be the loss of life and the loss of human touch from loved ones in the suffering (even as we thank God for the touch of medical professionals living as the presence of God’s healing grace for those who are sick.)
And, what does that love look like? Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, said it well:
“…joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”Galatians 5:22
This love is the flag we plant to proclaim that we are the colony of God’s kingdom in a world that would just as soon take us prisoner to its pain, suffering and even its sin.
Examples of “Flag Planting”
Deacon Chair, Guy Suttle, was in the barber shop the other day just before the Executive Order closed the doors. “It was early,” he writes, “and one person was in front of me as another person or two arrived. The tension was thick, no one getting close to each other. Then, it was my turn to sit in the chair, at that very moment the Lord put on my heart to pray out loud in this shop. Oh, I wrestled with it. ‘That’s not like me to do this Lord.'” But then, he writes, “As I exited the chair to pay the barber/owner, I asked him if I could pray. He said, ‘sure,’ and I said in a loud voice,’ Let us pray’! I only remember saying ‘Dear Heavenly Father…’ and I remember ending with ‘forgive us of our sins. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.’ I give all the Praise and Glory to God because that wasn’t me. I’ve never done anything like that in my life in a group I didn’t really have a connection with.” Guy gave this encouragement to our Deacons: “If the Lord puts it in your heart to pray, no matter when or where… just do it. It’s Him that is going to speak!”
” In this difficult time, In a loud voice… ‘Let us pray…'”Guy Suttle, FBC Chairman of Deacons
From NYC to Shelby, NC, Carol Ann Hoard and Tisha Dedmon spread cheer far and near. Their pre-Executive Order toilet paper deliveries and gift card encouragements to health care workers have brought smiles to their Shelby neighbors.
Child Care Workers at our church continue to serve the Lord with gladness and care for the children of front-line responders during these days of national crisis. This past week one of our FBC members, a retired teacher, brought my a batch of cookies just to encourage the hearts, and the collective “sweet tooth,” of our teachers. After the news that Peggy Searcy passed away last week (Peggy was one of our retired child care workers whose late husband, Charles, used to serve lunch coverage for us), a group from our church, along with parents, are planning to bring lunch to our teachers in the coming days in Peggy’s memory during these days when gatherings for funerals are not advisable.
FBC Kids have been sending messages to their neighbors near and far during these days of isolation! Rianna and other FBC Kids took time to use painter’s tape and washable paint to paint their front storm dorms into “stained glass windows” to remind themselves of their love for their church and to send the message to their neighbors that they are not alone in these days — God loves them! Ryan also took time these days to write letters of encouragement to people around town from our church family — letters that ended up in the homes of Extension Members, friends, and people he misses seeing during these days of distancing. (Follow FBC Shelby Children’s Ministries on Facebook for other stories of our kids “planting the flag!” And, parents sign-up to receive Remind 101 messages by texting @fbcshelbyk to 81010)
FBC Youth have been prompted each week to monitor themselves and their spiritual journey, as well as to pay attention to others in their community, by the daily reminders posted to them on Facebook, Instagram and Remind 101 (Sign-up for Remind 101 messages by texting @cahoard to 81010). Their online discussions are encouraging their hearts as adult teachers interact with them. They, too, have encouraged our church family by helping us to stay focused on God’s word as you can see here from the FBC Youth Shelby, NC Facebook page:
From the sewing machine in her home, Interim Minister of Music, Carol Ann Forgas, has been making masks for use by local healthcare providers and others. “This is something I can do,” she says. These masks are stitched with love for neighbors and they represent the fact that, yes, there is something that we each can do to be a blessing to others round us in Jesus’ name even during days when physical touch and nearness have to be limited!
Yes, we believe C.S. Lewis was right, we are not to live as “prisoners but as colonists” in this world that is often filled with threats and pain and discouragement. These are just a few examples of our colony’s flag being planted around Shelby during these days — there are so many more “plantings” happening every day around Cleveland County. As we pray for the virus to be thwarted by scientific breakthroughs, social distancing and God’s healing grace, so we live to let our minds be “dominated” by the presence of Jesus!
Amen and Amen!