If lockdown brought spiritual lowness and dryness then don’t fret. There is hope! I learnt an important lesson that I’d like to share.
Now that things are opening up again in HCMC, we might be tempted to rekindle our spirits by trying to return back to our lives as they were before the lockdown. This would be a great mistake because it will only bring temporary uplift. Lasting uplift comes from the only thing that is eternal, the spiritual realm.
Jesus said, You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit (John 15:16 NLT, emphasis added). Jesus says that the fruit lasts because He chose us and appointed us to bear spiritual fruit that lasts. Can you just imagine unending peace? If unguarded, our minds are constantly dwelling on how to afford this and that, where to go and when, what to invest in, who to spend time with, … the list goes on and on.
Wasn’t this true during lockdown? It was an unprecedented time when most material forms of enjoyment were outlawed. If Jesus chose us and appointed us to bear lasting spiritual fruit then it will be so, even during times when we have no material enjoyment.
Lockdown taught me to detach myself from things of the world. Some things that I was attached to include my love for eating out, my swimming hobby and my enjoyment of French cold cuts and cheeses. All of these were inaccessible for extended periods during the lockdown. If I remained attached to these things as my sole source of enjoyment then lockdown would have bowled me over. To detach oneself from the things of the world is not a new concept. Jesus said, one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions (Luke 12:15b ESV, emphasis added). In His Word God said, And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24 ESV, emphasis added). It’s no coincidence that this verse comes straight after the fruit of the Spirit because they clearly go hand in hand.
God is not calling us to all to live lives of isolation from the world like some are doing, totally detached from all enjoyment. Rather, God teaches us not to become dependent on or addicted to these things. When we cling to things of the world (including experiences) and we cannot have them, of course there is disappointment, frustration, anger and depression. Lockdown sadly led many into mental health problems.
I believe God teaches us to shift our expectations of finding enjoyment from things that can be withheld by barriers like lockdown, financial constraints, nationality, ability, … and instead find enjoyment in worshipping Him, Who never hides Himself from those who earnestly seek Him. Nor does enjoyment of God run dry. He is a God of many attributes that we have the joy of getting to know personally over our lifetime. No lockdown can stop us from knowing God more. That’s where lasting spiritual fruit is cultivated from.
But even outside lockdown, clinging to worldly things can lock us down in the sense that they require more and more of our precious time. For example, if I root my enjoyment in buying luxury things, eating fine foods everyday, and going on regular holidays to beautiful natural places to the point that I must have them then I will need to be able to afford it all. That would require me to work harder and longer, and that will of course come at a cost of my time and energy. I may have to give up time in getting to know God more (thus failing to obey the Greatest Commandment) and teaching others to know God more (failing to obey the 2nd Greatest Commandment and Great Commission).
Detaching ourselves from things allows us to put God first and do things that are meaningful to God rather than what we think (incorrectly) is meaningful. God honours that level of loyalty to Him because putting Him and His will number 1 glorifies Him. In return He blesses us with lasting spiritual fruit.
We pray that you will be a House of Blessings of all nations. Come and join us to be a channel of blessing to bless others.
If you are looking for an English speaking service to worship please write to the Pastor’s office for the zoom home Sunday Service link to join ICF worship during this lockdown period.