Liberty in Lockdown Word on the Week 25th April 2020.
Lockdown is a testing time for relationships! To be confined to a single space with your loved ones over a period of five weeks endows one with the ability to clearly see their flaws! It does not help that the date which the lockdown will end seems to be receding into the future. This does not reduce the tensions but increases them.
Domestic abuse has been recognised as a likely outcome and the Gardaí have been keeping a check on homes where it has occurred in the past. But what of us ordinary mild mannered people? Close proximity to others can bring out the best and the worst in us. “God will not show you a sin in others that is not present in yourself” (paraphrase of St Matthew Chapter 7 verse 3).
Jesus gave us a check-list; “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (St Mark Chapter 7 verses 14 to 23). We are all guilty before God.
And should efforts to keep the peace using the secular tools of ‘trying your best to be good’ and ‘not knowingly doing anyone any harm’ are seen to be particularly inadequate under lockdown conditions. Some have increased the quantity of alcohol in the shopping list but found that drink doesn’t get rid of problems it merely floats them! It’s always the other person’s fault and they need to fix it!
The only lasting way out of this is to confess your blindness to your own faults – first to the Lord then to the others. Their acceptance of your need to be for forgiven will always seem inadequate, especially if it is not reciprocated! But it’s your acceptance with God that matters. He is a God of grace. This means that acceptance with Him is not nor will ever be on the basis of your behaviour.
Everyone who trusts Jesus as their Lord is not welcomed into the Christian family because they have behaved in a particular way and kept the law of God but because Jesus did! On the cross Jesus took our sins “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, (the Law) which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians Chapter 2 verses 13 to 15).
The foremost result of the Holy Spirit taking up residence in you is seen in your ability to forgive others their sins against you. This flows from the forgiveness you have received from God and creates liberty – even in lockdown!