I believe the pandemic was apocalyptic. Let me explain.
The word apocalyptic simply means revealing or unveiling. John wrote the Revelation (or Apocalypse) of Jesus to the seven churches where he pulled back the curtain to show that all the chaos and troubles the church was experiencing in the first century was more than a crazy Roman Caesar wreaking havoc. What they were going through was coming from a far greater picture where evil was flailing in the throes of defeat. John wanted the first century Christians to understand that God was still in control and would redeem all of creation.
Just as John pulled back the curtain to unveil what was truly happening, these last 18 months have unveiled a lot about us. As we have all walked through the crucible of the pandemic, we have seen what is really most important to us. Through our decisions, our social media posts, our demonstrations, and the way we have spent our resources, we have shown our hand.
Now we must decide if we are willing to step back and honestly evaluate what we have revealed.
Think for a moment about what you have learned about your values as you navigated this pandemic. It has become pretty clear that a lot of people are upset about masks. They are either upset that no one will wear one or that someone would force them to wear one. People have demonstrated that they either value communities legislating for the most vulnerable, or they value personal liberty and responsibility.
I’m not making a judgment statement on either of those values, I just want to make sure I am willing to think objectively and deeply enough to admit why I have said and done the things I have said and done.
Winston Churchill, as he was working to form the UN after WWII, famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” There has been so much death and loss over the last 18 months that it can be difficult to be objective or discerning about our own values and actions. We want to blame someone or at least get really mad at someone to help ease our pain. It is so much easier to blame all those (fill in your blank here) for what I am going through. But that is wasting a good crisis.
Jesus was asked how he would summarize all the law and the prophets. He replied very simply, “Love God with all that you are, and love your neighbor as yourself.” When people ask me how they could live a better life, I have no wiser answer than that. Love God; love people. The rest will work itself out.
As we move beyond the pandemic into whatever the new normal is going to be, I want to invite you to take a few minutes and ask yourself why you handled these past 18 months the way you did. What was actually motivating your responses? What values were revealed?
In processing these things I encourage you to make a new commitment moving forward. Commit yourself to loving God and loving people: vaxers and anti-vaxers, maskers and anti-maskers, Democrats and Republicans, Right-wing conservatives and Left-wing liberals, gay or straight, female or male, old or young, people who look just like you and people are nothing like you. Start with love and then work from there.
Let the great unveiling of love begin right here in Delaware, Ohio! That is an apocalypse I hope I live to see.
Rev. Jason Allison is pastor of spiritual formation at Press Church. For information, go to www.presschurch.tv.