What a frustrating and disappointing weekend. Many hours were spent planning and preparing for our first face-to-face church meeting in several months.
Since we are in between venues, we decided to hold the first one in our home. Connor spent some hours working out the audio-visual setup so that we could both Zoom the meeting for those who might be unable to attend in person, and also ensure we had whatever sound and video requirements necessary for those meeting in our home.
All systems “Go” to meet together and still comply with government regulations, it would seem. And enthusiasm all round.
Or so we thought…
Buried there in the fine-print of the regulations was a phrase that made clear that ‘religious gatherings’ in a private home were restricted to 2 visitors. Strike 1!
So, with Harley and Teash’s help, we scoped out a suitable outdoor location to meet. Given the weather forecast was warm and sunny, this seemed safe.
Until 9.30 Sunday morning, when the rain set in. Strike 2!
So, back to Plan A, and Zoom the meeting as we’ve been doing for several months.
Disappointing for all who were excited about finally catching up with friends and family.
But we need to keep our disappointment in perspective…
Much of the Christian world would love to have a problem such as this. For them, it would be tangible evidence of the blessing of God on them.
In large parts of the world, Christianity is outlawed. For them, the problem is not just missing out on catching up with their friends. For them, the problem is the very real risk of arrest, torture and execution if they should meet together.
We need to keep this in mind, and give thanks for our freedom and for modern technology.
In fact, I’m reminded of some remarkable similarities between modern Western society and the ancient world of Christ and the apostles.
For one, there was a near-universal language spoken throughout the Roman empire. Few people did not understand Greek, even if few were able to read it. So telling the gospel of Jesus Christ was not difficult.
Likewise, the world today has a near universal language of communication – English. And for those people groups who don’t understand English, various groups such as Wycliffe Bible Translators and Faith Comes By Hearing work hard to provide the gospel in native tongues. I’d encourage you to click on those links and support their work.
For another, the ancient world was connected by a network of roads laid down by the Romans, and kept secure and relatively peaceful in a period of history known as the Pax Romana – the Roman Peace.
So the gospel spread throughout the known world with astonishing speed. Paul wrote to the Colossian church only a few decades after the Resurrection, “In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world…” [Col 1:6].
We too live in an age of relative peace. There is no world war raging. Relatively few countries even have major conflict at the moment. If it were not for COVID, travel around the world would be almost unrestricted.
And of course, we have the internet. The gospel can spread around the world – not in a matter of decades – but in a heartbeat.
We should give thanks to the Lord every day that we live in such a privileged age and in such a peaceful nation that many of our greatest frustrations and disappointments can be labelled “First World Problems.”
God willing, we should be able to finally meet together within a few weeks, and at least some of our First World Problems will go away.
And as Deji reminded me yesterday, “… all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose” [Rom 8:28].