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Why Returning to ‘Normal’ Isn’t Something We Should Strive For

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If you have ever travelled to Morden or Oval Tube Station in London, you may have come across a noticeboard with the “Thought of the Day”. The best of these are wise and practical, putting a spring in your step as you continue your journey. Take 23rd January 2021 for example:

“In the rush to get back to normal, use this time to decide which parts of normal are worth getting back to”

So then, what “normal” do you want to return to? Here are some suggestions based on valuable lessons learned during lockdown.

Balance business with rest

The Bible has piercing words for the lazy person. They are described as “slothful”, (Proverbs 12:24), “sluggards” (Proverbs 6:6) and people destined for poverty (Proverbs 10:4; 14:23; 21:5). There is no excuse for laziness, but some of us work excessively to the detriment of our well-being. God cares about our spiritual and physical health – so should we. God set the template for us at the end of His creative work (Genesis 2:2). This was not a time of rejuvenation, but cessation of work to mark the completion of His good creation (Genesis 1:31). Unlike God, we grow tired. In the Sabbath, He has made provision to overcome fatigue, but ultimately point toward the rest we can find for our souls in the completion of Christ’s redemptive work. This alleviates us from our strivings to attain God’s favour through our works and rest in the finished work of Christ.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

(Exodus 20:8-11)

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

(Hebrews 4:9-10)

Checking in on others

The isolation of lockdown can cause our loved ones to be consumed by their negative thoughts and driven into despair. Checking in on their well-being has become all the more vital.  Never under-estimate the impact of your presence and a listening ear via phone call. A simple text message of encouragement can lift their spirit in ways that you may not foresee. Show them that they are loved, be your brother’s keeper. We must not merely be reactive to the latest mental health hashtags and campaigns. This is our civic duty as followers of Christ, selflessly loving others. Go out of your way to serve them and meet their needs habitually.

Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down,
but a good word cheers it up.

(Proverbs 12:25)

Kind words are like honey—
    sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

(Proverbs 16:24)

The greatest among you will be your servant.

(Matthew 23:11)

Valuing physical fellowship

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.” These lyrics from a Joni Mitchell song, later sampled by Janet Jackson, seem to accurately depict our attitude toward public worship over the past year. The intermittent opening and closing of church has deprived us of the privilege of public worship. Pastors and congregations long to reconvene and attentively sit under the passionate preaching of God’s Word. Voices singing praises unto God in chorus. All this is possible online, but physical gatherings are a more glorious demonstration of the oneness of the church. We best grow and experience the love of Christ amidst the vibrancy of physical fellowship and a shared life in the church. The time for spectatorship at church is over. If there was ever a period to be committed to the life of the local church, it would be post- lockdown. This is a marker of our devotion to God and His people.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

(Acts 2:42)

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

(Hebrews 10:24-25)

Lockdown is drawing to a close; how will your respond? Will you retreat to harmful practices toward others and self? Will you revert to a low view of public worship? God forbid! Let us draw from what we have learned during this season to make the post- lockdown normal one worth returning to.

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Shumi Mararike
Alongside his Law undergraduate studies, Shumi is on the teaching team at Abide campus fellowship. He is also a youth mentor in both London and Manchester. Shumi joined the writers team with the desire to help readers live gospel-driven lives and develop their confidence when sharing their faith.