I’m still here, staying home, still sheltering in place, still sewing face masks, and finishing border blocks for the Bible Sampler Quilt project.
“Stay safe out there everybody”. I’ve heard this phrase a lot lately. Newscasters end their reports this way, friends add this to parting farewells. I suppose it’s meant to be a positive tag line, so I feel like a chump here when I ask, “How in the world am I supposed to “Stay safe”? We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. I live in earthquake country, and as if killer bees aren’t scary enough, the Murder Hornets have just arrived on my continent. And who are we kidding? We could die in our sleep tonight.” Life isn’t safe.
This well-meant phrase reminds me of another, equally well-meant: “Sending positive thoughts your way”. Yes, I’m glad you’re thinking of me during my difficulty, which brings comfort. But if I’m in great need, I’d want to be tapped into a greater power than a thought. Again, I feel like a bit of a chump when I ask, is this the best we can do?
I’ve finished reading the next book of the Bible, Habakkuk. This well-known phrase popped from the print in chapter 2, verse 4: “The just will live by faith”. I know it’s repeated in other places in the Bible, and I’ll be reading it again in the New Testament. But you heard it here first, folks.
Who exactly are the “just”? And how will they live “by faith”? This familiar phrase can seem vague, and can easily be misunderstood.
I learned in junior high confirmation class that “justified” means “just as if I’d” never sinned. So . . . the “just” are perfect, sinless people?
Exactly. The “just” are regular, sinful people. The only difference is, they put their faith in Jesus Christ. And faith comes by believing. They believe in the knowledge that Jesus Christ took it all, the sins of humanity, upon Himself to the cross and died with them. It was my sin, and yours, that put Him there. When He rose again, He overcame sin, death, and the power of the devil. When we give up any pretense regarding our ability to control our own safety, and put our faith in Him, we are born again; cleansed by the sacrificial blood He shed for us. Therefore it is “just as if we’d” never sinned. So you see how the only way “the just” can possibly live at all is “by faith”.
So we can do better than saying “Stay safe” to each other. We can share the faith we live by: The good news of the gospel. It won’t guarantee safety from COVID19, even better, it provides the ultimate safety: Being hidden in Christ, under the shadow of His wings. For eternity.
So, instead of saying “Stay safe”, I would take a cue from the early Christian church. Talk about living in dangerous times. While they were washing their hands without indoor plumbing, and trying to avoid diseases without modern medicine, they were being hunted down and brutally killed by the Romans. Yet they were known by how they loved one another and how they lived in faithful joy.
Those first Christians would probably chuckle and give an eye roll if they were told to “Stay safe out there”. They knew better. They would greet each other with a kiss and say “Christ’s peace”. Farewells would include the word “Maranatha”, Lord come soon.
May the peace of the Lord reign in your hearts and minds.