We continue to feel the effects of COVID in our daily lives, whether it be social distancing in public places, wiping off your basket handle at Walmart, or not being able to travel. After feeling the effects of COVID for 2 years now, how does it affect how we witness and do missions? How do we balance the call to be missional and yet maintain our social responsibility to others?
When Jesus gave the disciples the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), He knew that some would be prevented from going into all the world due to the persecution, but that was part of His plan to get the Gospel out to all people. I’m sure that at the time of the persecution, people felt God had abandoned them, but it was His perfect plan.
Paul's missionary method sometimes involved going on trips, but sometimes it involved staying in one place to train others. Paul did missions even when his Roman imprisonment prevented him from going anywhere due to his imprisonment. God used Paul to write the prison epistles that were very missional. The perceived delays simply opened up a different means for the spread of the Gospel. Also, I’m sure Paul prayed more for the churches, his friends, and the lost, when he was in prison.
With current social distancing, we are challenged and sometimes encouraged against our usual face-to-face discipleship and evangelism activities. Flights are cancelled. Borders are closed. So, what should we do to continue living out the Great Commission? Here are a couple of ideas:
We now have at our disposal the technological means for communication in a way that Paul couldn't dream. Our phones still work. Our computers can send emails and video. We can teach and train from where we are located. And we can find a long-distance friend with whom we can share the gospel. Snail mail with care packages are still being delivered. Social Media posting/videos can also become viral. We may never know how influential a simple Gospel message or video to a friend can be.
Missions planning for later trips. In the off-season, a farmer still works in preparing his equipment to be effective during harvest time. Though actual going may have been stalled by this coronavirus, our intentionality and planning should still move forward. Just as the Lord used the delays in the first century believers to bring them before governors and kings, He may be using this pandemic situation to redirect us to places we had not dreamed up to this point.
Even though now might be the time for us to be at home, it’s not the time to stop our obedience to the Great Commission. Our attitudes shouldn't remain inwardly focused. This may be the greatest opportunity to use new media for world evangelization and to show a Great Commission heart to the rest of the world. We still have a great missional task, and we've been given all that we need to fulfill it.