I’m about to make a controversial statement! The Star Wars film The Last Jedi is one of my favourites… don’t stop reading! I really like the way Rian Johnson subverts the audience’s expectations (for better or for worse), changing and shaking the traditional narrative of the Star Wars storyline. One of the most impactful scenes for me was near the end.
The resistance has been decimated by the first order. Kylo Ren and his forces have nearly wiped everyone out and there are just a handful of soldiers left. One of the main characters, Rey, is speaking to Princess Leia at the end of the film and, looking down at the broken lightsaber, she asks “How do we rebuild from this?” Princess Leia simply responds with “We have everything we need”.
Let’s be honest, the state of the church in the UK at the moment does not look great. We have had less people meeting together due to the pandemic and we have leaders who are burnt out and feeling a little lost due to the seemingly never-ending restriction changes and lack of consistency. We feel we are making progress and then suddenly before we know it we feel like we are back to square one. Organising online only events and not being able to meet to sing and pray together these last couple of years have been exhausting, to say the least.
We may be asking the same question as Rey — “How do we rebuild from this?”
The answer to that question is, as Princess Leia states, “We have everything we need!”
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ disciples have seen him beaten, spat on, mocked, whipped, crucified and buried. The disciples then witness him rise from the dead. At the very end of the book it states in chapter 28 verse 16–20:
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus tells them that he has ALL authority on Heaven and Earth. Jesus has the freedom to decide anything and everything that happens on heaven and earth without hindrance or obstacle.
Colossians 1:16 states that:
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him.
Jesus doesn’t just have all authority but everything on heaven and earth, our leaders and all powers are created through and for him. He oversees everything, no stone is unturned.
So bearing all this in mind, do we think that the pandemic and the state of the church is a surprise to Jesus and that our crisis is a crisis in his eyes?
The answer is a resounding No!
What does this mean for us?
It’s very tempting at this moment in time to believe everything is against us and that we need to just focus on survival; putting out one fire after the next, never building momentum, getting ground down by the negative cycle of news and empty chairs in our churches.
However, we are not called to merely survive but to grow, develop and change into the people Jesus wants us to be. We are called to make disciples and to spread the good news of the Gospel. We are called to be a community that loves one another and to live this out in front of others so they may be changed. We are called to be the aroma of Christ among our family and friends. We are called to trust Jesus with our long term future, to dream big and take risks.
The pandemic hasn’t changed anything. Jesus still has authority. He is still in complete control and he still calls us to not just survive and think short term but to live and plan into the future, knowing he has complete authority and that he who began a good work in us will complete it!
My family is big into Marvel (ask my kids any questions about it)! We have just watched the latest Spider-Man film, which was awesome by the way and I promise no spoilers! In the film Spider-Man’s girlfriend has a particular mindset which I’m sure we can relate to. Throughout the film she continually says this quote: “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really be disappointed.”
It’s so easy to let this mindset creep into our daily walk with God, especially after the last couple of years. When you think about the future, just expect disappointment; God won’t or can’t provide; he isn’t in control; he doesn’t know what’s going on; he seems to have forgotten about us etc.
Here is a challenge for 2022 — together and with the Holy Spirit’s power, let’s fight against this mindset (I can’t do it on my own)!
Can we, as a people, look forward with hope and confidence, knowing that Jesus has ultimate authority and all our plans are ultimately decided by him? Can we be content in knowing that God is absolutely for us and not against us, regardless of what happens?
Can we be confident that as Jesus said in Mark Chapter 4; that as we plant and plan anything for God’s kingdom, regardless of how small it is, he is the one who can grow it? We have the privilege of sowing the seed and leaving the results up to God!
What does this look like for us? What small steps can we take this year, leaving the results to God? Is it speaking to that neighbour? Or starting that ministry that you have a passion for but you have never found the time to start? Is it committing to reading your Bible and praying on a more regular basis?
How do we rebuild from the mess of the pandemic?
The good news is that we are not rebuilding anything.
The question is how will God rebuild from this mess?!
That’s an exciting question and I am looking forward to seeing how God will work and what he will do in 2022! Be encouraged that this is happening and will happen even if we don’t feel like it or can’t see it.
We really do have everything we need.
Matt Boyd, Christchurch Elder