The book of 1 Thessalonians can be well applied to our present ‘lockdown’ situation. Paul had been to Thessaloniki and planted a church but due to other issues he had not been able to go back to keep them on track. As a result, he was worried and concerned for the believers he had left there. Would the church thrive in the absence of his leadership or would they ‘drift off’? You can see in the letter Paul is concerned for them; were they really going to grow through this season of no ‘Paul’. The good news was that they did more than survive, in fact, Timothy reports that they were flourishing. The people of God in Thessaloniki had taken it upon themselves to make sure they grew in faith and love.
The question and challenge for us is in ‘lockdown’ is are we going to do the same or are we going to take a faith holiday. The key for us to thrive with our faith is being intentional. We need to purposely think and act on our faith because if not it will lose its central place in our lives. Here are a few ideas for growing deeper in your faith during lockdown.
Be willing to allow your thinking to be shaped at this time, not by fear but by faith. If we do not focus on and spend time reading the wisdom of God, then we are in danger of being discipled by the wisdom of the world. We are all like sponges and we will absorb what is around us the most. If we are reading social media, the news and reports of fear and alarm then we will be shaped by them more and our fear and uncertainty may grow. However, if we focus on God’s words and truth then we can be encouraged and reassured. Paul tells us to not have minds that are conformed to the shape of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. But how can we do this?
i. Engage with the Bible
Daily engagement with the Bible will always have a shaping effect on our thinking. The wisdom of God found on the pages of the Bible has this beautiful correcting effect on our thinking.
Here are some helpful tools to engage with the Bible.
ii. Talk with others.
Being a part of a group that reads the Bible together and reflects with others is always helpful. We can easily read our own interpretation into the Bible but being a part of a group will help us hear other views and perspectives.
iii. Read something inspiring.
As well as reading the Bible, reading something that inspires you will always help you live more positively for your faith. The website shop essentialchristian.com is full of great reads and has reviews and recommendations if you are not sure what book to buy. Check them out.
Allowing your heart to be broken and to become passionate about what the Lord is passionate about is not easy. Especially if you’re not taking time with the one you want to imitate. Getting daily time to pray and encounter God is the only way to really get into an intimate place with Jesus. Life has slowed down during lockdown which gives us opportunity to breathe and pray in a very different way. Why not use the 3.2.1 Daily retreat to engage with God and allow yourself to be changed and shaped by Him? Spiritual disciplines and habits like these help to ensure that we are engaging with the source of our faith.
Lockdown need not prevent us from putting our faith into action. Even at this time we can work out our faith with our hands. It may just need to look slightly different to usual. Some ideas for things we can do in this time could include simply baking for a neighbour, pick up bread and milk for someone in need as well as actually serving by being a front-line worker.
Why don’t you explore ways in which your local church is loving the vulnerable in their neighbourhood?
You may be able to volunteer and help get involved in many ways.
Other suggestions may include producing and distributing food parcels for those struggling with accessing shops either through lack of money, isolating or because they are key workers working long hours; collecting medication, phone calls to give support.
Is there a local night shelter, food bank or debt advice you could support?
Reaching out and serving our neighbours could also be done by phone or through the post. How many of us are encouraged by a card, letter or phone call from somebody wanting to see how we are and have a quick chat? Even if you are shielding, you could offer to ring others who are isolated and alone for a chat or offer to pray for them.
If you want to know more about why we do this here is a great article (HERE)
During lockdown, our time commitments are very different, which can make it a perfect time to engage with good discipleship material. There is a wide selection of Podcasts and video content available on the web that can be a wonderful way to grow and develop in your faith, as well as spending time reading books. Anything that you can consume to engage your faith is always a win.
Here are a couple of links that you may like to start with to explore content on the web.
Spring Harvest are offering all their teaching from the 2020 event free online here…
Catholic Missionary Disciples is a great website for articles and blogs.
Care for the family has some brilliant content for those wanting to think about family life.