“17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.” NIV
Somebody once described the contemporary church as ‘the best disguised set of pilgrims the world has ever seen.’ In the whirl of ordinary life, with its many demands and distractions, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we don’t belong here and we won’t be long here. As the gospel song says, ‘This world is not my home…’
We are living through remarkable days, when much of the world’s machinery has been completely shut down. I think God is wanting – maybe among other things – to get our attention and wake us up to the realisation that life is short and fragile, and we are not in control. He is! How easily we forget that there is an eternal dimension. Life is brief; eternity is long. One day we must give an account to God for what we have done with the lives, resources, opportunities etc He has entrusted to us.
I was thinking, one of the institutions to take a battering in the Coronavirus storm is the entertainment industry. I’m not saying it’s all bad, but so much of what it pumps out has to do with that ‘’empty way of life’’ (v.18) which Jesus came to rescue us from. How often do we go back there for refreshment, only to find what deep inside we always know to be true: the well is empty and it does not satisfy? Our true home is in the ‘Father’s’ company. When we call on Him we are at home.
At the moment, Jilly and I are using ‘A Diary of Private Prayer’ – an updated version of a devotional classic by Scottish theologian John Baillie. When I read this morning’s prayer, I thought it so relevant. Here is an extract from it:
‘Here I stand, weak and mortal amid the immensities of nature…
Let me remember that my mortal body is only the servant of my immortal soul;
Let me remember how uncertain my hold is on my own physical life;
Let me remember that here I have no continuing city, but only a place for a brief stay, and a time for testing and training;
Let me use this world without abusing it;
Let me be in this world but not of it;
Let me be as though I have nothing, and yet possess everything;
Let me understand the vanity of what is time bound and the glory of the eternal;
Let my world be centred not in myself, but in you.’