“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
I’ve heard the word “unprecedented” more times in the last two weeks than in the rest of my adult life. Our collective response to the coronavirus has been the single most disruptive thing in recent memory. Everyone is social distancing; school is moved online; even our worship services have moved online… But, that leads to a pastoral concern:
God made us to worship together.
God calls us to gather to worship together.
A virtual worship experience is a diminished experience (here is an excellent article on that thought).
Since gathered worship is the chief place we get spiritual food, there is a concern that the sheep–the Lord’s people–won’t be fed.
And so, the pastors at Midway have begun to fervently pray that the Lord’s sheep won’t go hungry.
The Apostle Peter was broken after he denied the Lord (John 18). He knew that he had shamefully chosen to fear men more than he feared God. Surely that shame was on his heart when he met with Jesus again in John 21… When Jesus asked THE question: “Simon, son of John, do you LOVE me?” (John 21:15). Peter says that he does. Then Jesus responds, “feed my lambs.” Three times Jesus asks Peter and three times Peter confesses to loving him. Each time Jesus calls him to feed his sheep.
The test of love for Christ is the feeding of the sheep. No one can say they love the Lord Jesus–despite the most fervent of confessions–unless they commit their hearts, and prayers, and actions to the soul-nourishment of Jesus’ lambs.
Now, to the pastors’ prayer that the Lord’s sheep won’t go hungry. What can we do? This unprecedented time has taken away much of the regular activity, infrastructure, and programming of church. The things that (for some of us) have artificially propped up a spiritual life are gone. All that’s left is the Lord’s burning question: Do you love me? Then feed his sheep.
Step up to the test… feeding his sheep includes yourself. Your main source of spiritual food is diminished right now. You should feel hungry. You should long for “the courts of the Lord” (Ps 84:1–2).
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Ps 84:1–2
So, read more Bible. Lengthen your time in prayer. Draw near to the Lord and ask for that bread that comes from the mouth of God. Make a new or renewed commitment to talk about Scripture and to pray with your family (Deut 6:7). Let your home become a holy place.
Let that commitment be the Lord’s answer to your pastors’ prayers.