Gratefulness in What Cannot Be Shaken
“...But now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12: 26-29, ESV)
2020 has been a year of hard knocks. I don’t care who you are, but I don’t think anyone had an easy year. Some are jobless, some are mourning the loss of loved ones, and some are living in day-to-day fear,
loneliness, and frustration. It was a year of missed plans, disappointment, and cancelled travels. It might seem, as we approach Thanksgiving, that there is not much to be thankful for. Instead, we may want to hide in our homes, order in, and shake our fists at God for all the things that aren’t going for us.
And in all this chaos and turmoil, where is the Church? Are we the reminder of light to this dark world, or are we adding to the noise and the dissension? Are we more caught up in filling the pews again now that quarantine has derailed the weekly meeting that kept us all in our routine? I am praying that we are keeping ourselves trained on being the hands and feet of Jesus, rather than getting swept away in trying to be the attactional, flashy, or trendy wave to entice people back into the door of a building.
Because the honest truth when it comes to the Church is that sure, there’s a building you go to every Sunday full of a community you’re familiar with, but your Church family extends far beyond those walls. And I think that may be the biggest thing that Covid has distracted us from: the fact that our mission is not to build membership back to what we were used to pre-coronavirus. Our goal should not be trained on going back to where we were, because if we’re being honest, I don’t think God wants us to go back there anyway.
This year has been a turning point for the human experience as a whole, but especially for the Church. I believe that God knew about this virus from the very beginnings of time and that He would use it to test the faith of those that claim to love Him. I believe that this virus is the beginning of the “shaking” God refers to in Hebrews 12. And as He begins to shake the world, we grow ever closer to the day that God will reveal His true Church; the Bride He’s been pursuing and saving and building since the fall of man.
You see, before God can receive His kingdom– before He can steal away His Bride– He has to shake off the parts that do not genuinely belong to His kingdom. Say to say, but there are people out there who call themselves Christians, yet are not strong enough to keep the faith through their deepest adversities. Do you know someone like that? Someone who walked away from their faith this year because the going got tough? Someone that put Jesus on the backburner so that they could struggle through 2020 in their own strength, rather than leaning back into the steadfast, all knowing, ever-present God?
Because sadly, 2020 has done more to create and perpetuate Christians that will never stand up to the shaking that is to come. Why? Because in this generation of social media and spiritual gimmicks aimed more so at gaining celebrity over righteousness and godliness, we’re missing the opportunities to develop a faith that cannot be shaken. If you’re building a faith that wants more followers, clout, and personal success more than Jesus, you’re not a Christian. If you’re cultivating a relationship with God that sees him more as the means to an end over the end goal and the meaning, you’re not a Christian.
Maybe that’s a less-than-fluffy message. Maybe that hurts or convicts you today. Maybe you came here wanting a more up-lifting, easy read as we ready ourselves for one of the biggest family holidays of the year. To that, I challenge you to lean into this and still find the reasons to be thankful that we serve a God that is unwilling to accept a Bride that has not been truly tested or shaken. I want you to really lean into the struggle this year has been and count it all joy. Because the very fact that you have walked through this year and still remain faithful only proves your faithfulness to God and His faithfulness to you.
Anything that doesn’t add up to the pure, reverent, awe-inspiring love of God and the yearning to see His will be done won’t stand against what is coming. And if we really do stand on the Rock of Ages, we shouldn’t see that fact as a looming, ominous, dreadful thing. We should eagerly await it. Why? Because God promises us that there is yet one more event that will shake not only the earth, but heaven as well. And through that shaking, things that are not eternal: the coronavirus, polarizing social issues, corrupt politicians, fear, loneliness, and everything else that stands against the preeminent Kingdom of God will fall away.
They don’t stand a chance.
So we, as the Bride of Christ should dig our heels in and make sure that we are ready. We should praise God and thank Him for deeming us worthy to be the generation of believers that could withstand this shaking; that we could hold on and still carry out our callings, even on the heels of so much hardship. We should be more than grateful this Thanksgiving, and every day, that He has chosen this Church to watch the impurities in His kingdom fall away so that we can get closer and closer to the pure and spotless Bride that He will call to Himself someday soon. Our God is the all-consuming fire that will pass over everything, burning up everything that is unacceptable and forging everything that is eternal into something glorious.
So don’t let the passing frustrations of this year distract you from being the Church, the Bride. Don’t get caught up in the numbers game of this generation obsessed with followers and fan bases and platforms and cameras. Instead, remember that as a true Christian, you are called to something far more eternal. You are a part of a kingdom that will never be shaken and will never die. If you have nothing else today, be thankful for that. Be thankful that God has chosen you– yes, you– to be a part of this unbreakable promise.