I could write pages and pages about the “lessons learned” during the last 19 months—about the ways in which the Holy Spirit moved and spoke, revealed and uncovered, shook and stirred myself individually and the world collectively. I have a feeling that on a crisp October day, with a big mug of coffee and a journal in hand, you could write pages and pages as well.

God has done some deep and wide work.

And yet the world slowly moves on. People are taking trips again, gathering together and spending money. We are going back to school, back to work, and back to more routine than we have had in a while. None of these things are bad. But I feel it in my soul today to say that as Christians, as followers of Jesus who live lives aimed at eternity and bringing heaven to earth in our broken, sinful bodies, we must think differently as our lives go back to “normal.” We are not made for this world—we are a holy people. We are not of this world, and yet we are in it. We are taught not to deal with things in the same way the world deals with things.

The world will cope with the after-effects of the pandemic in so many different ways—they will medicate and indulge with food, travel, drugs, sex, alcohol, and addictions. They will distract with social media, a too-full calendar, new philosophies, busy-ness, and relationships. They won’t forget the pandemic, but they will be in a rush to return to the old ways.

And I’m the first person to say that if I’m not careful, I will fall into that trap, too, the trap of the old ways. It is quite easy to, especially in an unconscious, subliminal kind of way. Don’t get me wrong—wanting to experience relief, relaxation and normal is not ungodly. But these things are not the end goal either. Christ is, and he has taught us, he has formed us. He has let us see ourselves over these last 19 months in every shade of sorrow. He has shown us how we fall short. He has revealed sin. He has magnified our distrust of him, and yet he walks the path of suffering with us. 

If we come out of the pandemic coping like the world, resembling and mimicking it, did anything really change? Did we go through the refiner’s fire just to be unmoulded and unusable?

The Spirit is calling us to a different way, and we can collectively, as the church, choose to take that way now. We have this brilliant, life-transforming gift and burden in front of us as Christians—we get to see the reality of our sin every single day. We are keenly aware in a world completely unaware. And the pandemic amplified this—how much we rely on things other than the cross to deal with our guilt, our discontentment, our stress, our dissatisfaction, and our pain. This awareness is also a gift to a dying, distracted, seeking world—sin is real and so is the Saviour.

Will you stay the same?

My question to you, dear reader, is how have you been moulded, shaped and changed by the last 19 months? How have you been made holy, or holier? And will you allow the world to see that holiness? Will you gift the church with a life of repentance? Will you consciously walk in freedom?

As a new season dawns, we will not go back to normal. I do not think it was really working for us anyway. We have seen ourselves, our world and our God afresh. Some of us have dug very deep wells with him, and some of us are just beginning. (Perhaps this is the perfect moment to see if those shallow wells can go any deeper—I bet you they can.) And when the wells go deep and the sin surfaces, we remember that he called us to be holy. And that holiness is a catalyst for renewal, a mark of a generation.

Photo of Kira Stawski JeppesenKira Stawski Jeppesen is a pastor at a church plant in downtown Toronto.

Photo: baza178/istock via Getty Images Plus

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