I was a sophomore in high school when the movie, “Red Dawn,” came out in 1984. The movie featured a cast that would go on to become elite Hollywood stars. Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Powers Boothe, Jennifer Grey (Yes…that Jennifer Grey…Swayze’s future dancing partner in Dirty Dancing…which would be released in 1987), Charlie Sheen…and a few other now well-known actors teamed up to give us one of the most popular movies of the decade. In short, World War III was at hand and the Soviets had invaded the United States. The young actors starred as a group of teenagers banding together to keep the Soviets out of both their town and the country. Certainly one of the things that made the movie such a hit was that it touched a very sensitive nerve of what WWIII might possibly look like…if there ever was one. By that I mean it called your imagination into action. American citizens locked up in camps run by Russians on American soil was an “unthinkable” catastrophe for any red-blooded American. Everything in the country had changed…nothing was the same. The teens were not worried about graduation or starting college…survival was the goal…and possibly turning the tide in the bigger war. If you were around during the 80’s when the movie was released, then I’m sure you remember how real the potential bash between the US and the USSR really was. President Reagan addressed the subject more than a few time in his 8 years as president. The movie’s success was directly linked to its ability to make every American who saw it dwell on the “what if?” of it all. Thirty-six years later…and I’m still thinking about it.
Please know I’m not trying to be a drama king. Nor am I saying that we are now living in a world just like the one we saw in Red Dawn. But I am saying that we are living in a way we never thought we would have to. I am saying in a matter of weeks…life, as we know it, is truly different on a level that’s hard to explain. In many ways, we have all had to come to grips with how easily we have taken things for granted. Going out to eat, school functions, church services, catching a movie, family reunions…have always been there…until now. Updates come to us almost hourly as apps on our phones buzz with pertinent information. What started with hundreds quickly moved to thousands…even hundreds of thousands. The app on my phone says currently there are now over 3 million cases of the coronavirus confirmed in the world….and over 200,000 people have died. In our country, the same app says we now have had over a million diagnosed cases and close to 58,000 people have died. People wear masks and gloves buying gas…and buying bread at the grocery store. Just today I had paid for things at three different stores and in each case I was separated from the person I was giving money to by a plastic partition to keep our germs from each other. In January and February, those partitions were not there. Walmart, weeks ago, had several doors that you could go both in and out of. Today they have one for in…and one for out. Time does not permit me to list the countless “gazillions” of other things in our “normal” lives this virus has altered. It is not an exaggeration at all to say that everything has changed. And though many are now speaking “re-opening” various non-essential (a new way we now classify businesses) operations, we really do not know how it will go or how it will all play out. What had always been reserved for the realm of imagination is now real life for all of us.
As I think about all of this, I can’t help but wonder what this is doing to the church, to Christians, to evangelism and missions…to our list of priorities. As a pastor, I can’t help but think this way. But even if I wasn’t a pastor…these things should still matter…or at least they should. Though we are all guilty at times of tapping the imaginary “brake pedal” in our faith…the bigger reality is our faith doesn’t have a brake pedal to push. I’m sure our adversary has already whispered in our ears we can’t really do anything until “all this is over.” In other words, we are in time-out until normalcy returns…then we can get back to serious business in our churches and our service in the kingdom.
I simply want to encourage all of us to not believe Satan’s lies in all of this. Time-out and tapping the brakes are not options in the Christian life. As we go through these difficult days, the church is still called to service. Opportunities are stacked on top of one another for those paying attention. And while many things have changed…more than a few things have not. Allow me to close this blog with a short list I shared with our church family on this past Sunday night’s broadcast. I found this list on The Gospel Coalition app. An article by Steven Witmer on April 18th entitled, “Seven Things the Coronavirus Hasn’t Changed.”
- God...He is STILL God…He hasn’t changed…or lost any strength…
- God’s Word…what a blessing!
- God’s Love…steadfast and eternal is the love of God
- God’s Purposes…God is bringing about His will in His timing…COVID-19 is not the only thing going on in the world
- Jesus’ Intercession for us…even now…He is interceding for us…
- Judgment Day…calls for preparation for Saints and sinners…a promised day we should never forget is coming to all…regardless of what is happening all around us
- Our Final Destination…a promise God has made to all who trust in Christ…and a warning to those who neglect Him.
Blessings and thanks to all. Let us continue on together…for the glory of God!