Editor’s Note: With so many churches in our area having to suspend worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, we are asking local pastors to partner with us in bringing a daily message of hope and comfort to readers during this difficult time.
Are we really living in “unprecedented times”? Some say we have never faced threats to our existence similar to what we are experiencing now in the form of disease, civil unrest and the actions of an increasingly heavy-handed government. I won’t argue about the nature of these threats, but I recall seeing signs on buildings downtown: Yellow signs with three triangles on them. They were signs Civil Defense put up to let people know that these would be safe places to gather in the event of nothing less than a nuclear war. As I recall, there was one on the old post office across from City Hall, and one on First Christian Church (I think). I have wondered, post 9-11, what happened to those signs. Did the threat of nuclear war really go away? Or did we just move on?
There were men and women during the Cold War whose job it was to keep us on the right path — encouraging us to love one another and pursue the heart and mind of Jesus Christ. And they did. They didn’t tell us to spend our days “preparing for the worst.” They encouraged us to find ways to reach out and be generous with ourselves.
At Oakwood Forest Christian Church, Hugh Thompson focused on teaching us what we needed to know about living outside of our own concerns and thinking of others. We found energy to care for a Laotian refugee family; raise funds to send to Mexico and Africa; time and room for the Ulster Project, which was dedicated to helping Catholic and Protestant children from Northern Ireland get to know each other; and find new friends instead of enemies.
The more I learn about the church of our past, the more I realize our times are not so “unprecedented.” Each generation faced its own challenges, and the solutions seem strikingly similar to me. There is so much to learn from our past, especially in light of the Scriptures.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us.” (Hebrews 12: 1)
It’s time to throw off that which encumbers us. What is keeping you down? Doubt? Fear? Bitterness? This is a race! Let’s run it together!
Mike Beverly is pastor at Indian Springs Christian Church in Kingsport.