From the Parable of the Sower
18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Mark 4:18-19
I often wonder if the church will ever return to what we considered normal before the pandemic. In some ways, the change from in-person to virtual services have been a good thing. Now, the people that we have that couldn’t leave their homes, because of health or other concerns, can watch the service live rather than wait for a recording. On the flip side, it allows people to become more like consumers; tuning in to their favorite TV show during primetime. They can “go” to church in their jammies while drinking coffee and hardly notice the interruption to their weekend.
But is that really what church is supposed to be about? Is it enough to just listen to the sermon in a recording and be fruitful as God wants us to be?
Because I am a veteran and a man, my favorite genre of TV and movies has always been military. I enjoy watching the comradery of the soldiers and the precision in which they carry out the missions. The show I am currently watching is SEAL team which airs on CBS.
I was watching season 3 episode 4 this week. On this episode, the team was training to assault a fishing trawler used by terrorists to hold hostages while waiting for ransom. The mission objectives were to secure the bridge within 10 minutes, (so that the terrorists can’t get the ship into Chinese waters, which would trigger an international incident), take out the terrorists, rescue the hostages and minimize the risk of casualties. They trained for days trying to meet their objectives but in this case, they failed each time. Like any TV show there was drama. Each of the team members were distracted by things going on in their personal lives. Their distractions kept them from coming together as a unified, cohesive team and completing the mission, regardless of the hours upon hours of training they were conducting.
In the same way that their distractions were causing mission failures, our distraction cause us to fail in our mission as well. God has given us a team and a mission. If we let worldly distractions keep us from committing to either of those; we fail. If we listen to the word but fail to work in unity with our team; we fail. If we think we can do it without God’s grace and the blessing of those like-minded people around us; we fail. If we become more focused on our own personal accomplishments and not on the mission God has given us; we fail.
The church may never be the same as it was before, and that’s okay. But we can’t let this pandemic divide us from the team God has given us and allow distractions to cause us to lose focus on the mission before us. Because training without fully committing to the team and the mission is pointless and leads to mission failures and spiritual casualties.