A lockdown worth living?

A lockdown worth living?

Here in England we have just entered our third COVID-19 lockdown. The restrictions are a little lighter than the first – churches can still hold services, funerals can still go ahead (which I was thankful for as my grandma’s was on Tuesday) – but many of us are exhausted from the strains of the past year and any reserves we had are all but depleted. How can we find the strength we need even to endure these new restrictions?

As so often, we can learn something from Paul in Philippians. Paul was also in lockdown – or rather, he was locked up! His powerful preaching and teaching ministry could no longer happen in person – and he didn’t even have Zoom by which to connect with others, but had to rely on pen-and-parchment.

What’s more, others were having ‘success’ at his expense. In chapter 1 vv 15-18 he seems to be responding to a concern that the Christians in Philippi have expressed, that people are preaching the gospel out of envy and rivalry. They are stealing his patch! While his ability to minister is restricted, others are muscling in and taking advantage. Paul’s response: “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (v. 18).

Paul wasn’t threatened by someone else gaining attention and prestige while he was out of the way. What mattered was that Christ was being preached, and more people were coming to know him.

I can almost hear him giggling with delight as he describes how his imprisonment ‘has actually served to advance the gospel’ (1:12)!

Just think – if he had been free to travel around preaching and teaching, his words may have reached tens, even hundreds of thousands of people in his lifetime. But because of the restrictions placed on him, they had to be written down – and hence have reached hundreds of millions of people over thousands of years, all the way down to us.

How might this lockdown ‘actually serve to advance the gospel’ through your life? What has been made possible through these restrictions that was impossible when we were ‘free’? Could it be that God is still at work, and that lockdown might actually be worth living for?

 

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This post was adapted from an article I wrote for LICC this week, and also inspired by themes from my book.

 

2 Comments On This Topic
  1. johngosling42hotmailcom
    on Jan 8th at 1:18 pm

    Hi Jennie,
    Thanks for your latest – I read it with great interest. You make a very good point here about the ‘up-side’ of lockdown. In my own case I had never heard of Zoom or Facetime before mid-March, but now I realise having read your blog that since then I have attended more SNP and Grassroots meetings than I would have been able to do if I had had to physically drag my 78 year old frame to each one in person! And that’s only one example. I’ve also been able to ‘attend’ some really interesting lectures and seminars in the same way. Distance no object. I just WISH that it was possible to have Zoom-type chamber music performances, but alas that seems to be impossible owing to latency problems. Multi-party discourse and managing speaker- change therein is OK though, because it doesn’t demand the same kind of temporal precision. Actually, it might even IMPROVE some forms of discourse. Grandstanding politicians don’t like it – eg. Trump and Johnson – because it is much harder to ‘swing’ an audience, but much easier to present a rational argument!!
    Anyhow, as usual, you show very well how relevant and bang up-to-date is the old travelling tent-maker!!
    Best wishes for a very happy and productive 2021..
    John G

    Reply
    • Jennie Pollock
      on Jan 11th at 12:11 pm

      Thank you, John! Yes, my book launch was the real highlight for me – being able to have friends and family from far and wide join me in the celebration was such a blessing. I also ‘visited’ the New York Met, and got to time travel, too – seeing a performance there from 1983, I believe! What a world of possibilities we live in.

      Reply

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