CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

No More Business As Usual?

Mar 21, 2020

The most important thing is to let God change us during this time of crisis:

It seems we have heard these words before: “The world is now forever changed.” “There can be no more business as usual.” “There is no more going back to the old ways of doing things.” Where have we heard such things? We are certainly hearing them right now because of COVID-19.

But we have also heard this at other times of great crisis, especially just after 9/11. When the twin towers fell most folks were talking about life no longer being the same, that everything would change, and that we must prepare for a new way of living. So, was that the case?

Well, yes and no. Sure, some things did change. We now have longer, slower lines at airports because of security checks. That has certainly been one permanent change because of the terror attacks. And at least to some extent for some people, there is a greater understanding that the political ideology of Islam is a very real threat. But even that is quite hit and miss, with plenty of Western leaders and media outlets doing their best to tell us Islam is just a religion of peace.

So how much did things really change after 9/11? The truth is, very soon after that horrific day, it really was a return to business as usual. Most people went on living the very same lives they were living before. And here I am interested in looking at the spiritual side of things.

Yes, there seemed to have been a brief uptake in church attendance right after the jihad attacks, but that did not last very long. Folks went right back to their pagan, selfish selves. There was no real revival or reformation that swept through America.

Basically, people lived the very same lives that they lived before. It was business as usual: people being selfish and greedy and materialistic and consumeristic and fixated on living the good life. The spiritual condition of the nation did not really change, and most folks went on living as they always had: mainly for themselves.

But we are being told once again that everything will change with this current crisis. Time will tell. If something like 9/11 could not really shake us out of our selfish and sinful lifestyles, will coronavirus do it? Much of it depends on how long this thing drags on.

If we see a turn around in terms of new cases and deaths in just a month or so, then I suspect that yes, it will soon revert back to business as usual. But if it drags on for six months or more, as some are saying, then yes, there may well be some changes.

But they may be more governmental and societal changes, as opposed to individuals changing how they live, at least spiritually speaking. Already, for example, conservatives are rightly calling for an end of Western reliance and dependence on China for all sorts of things, including medicines and cheap products.

So that could well change, along with bigger picture items like reckless globalisation, open borders and the like. Everything that folks like Trump have been warning us about is happening with this virus. There really IS a good case for strict border controls, for national sovereignty, and for not running with globalist bodies such as the UN. So those things may change as well.

On a more personal level, if millions of folks are forced into self-isolation and home lockdowns, that will be a new thing for many. And maybe a good thing. Reconnecting with family and the simple things in life can always be a good thing. Getting our priorities right can always be a good thing.

And if it leads many people to start focusing on God and eternity then that is certainly a good thing. As I said, it did not really happen after 9/11. Maybe it will start to happen here. The longer the crisis drags on, and the more draconian and austere government measures become then there are greater chances of some folks at least looking beyond materialism, and hopefully reaching out to God.

Of course, if they simply reach out to all the counterfeit and bogus spiritualities out there such as the New Age Movement they will end up fully disappointed. It is Jesus Christ and him alone that they need a living encounter with. And not any old Jesus, but the Christ of Scripture.

With this in mind, let me conclude this piece by sharing some basic truths: One, most folks do not like change (me included). And it often takes something pretty radical to get them to change. Two, we tend to want to take the easy way out. We will make slight adjustments to our lives, but only for as long as is required. When things go back to normality, we tend to go back to our old ways. Three, often the best medicine needs time to do its work, but we so often do not want to give it the proper time.

Let me give a practical example and then make the spiritual analogy. I really dislike going to dentists. I guess I had some bad experiences when young. So I tend to avoid them, and only go when a tooth really starts hurting. And when there, I want them to only do the minimal and quickest amount of work.

But a concerned dentist will not readily allow a patient to just run. If they know that lengthier major work is required to bring about total health, they will insist on that. Of course cowards like me can still say no, leave the dental office, and simply stay away. But we may be asking for real trouble in that case.

It is the same in the spiritual realm. God can use a crisis like this to get our attention and deal with our spiritual tooth decay. Our spiritual health is in a real bad way, yet most folks do not want to even think about it. Thus it is often not until a crisis breaks out that God can finally get the attention of some of us.

And again, we must allow for God’s full and complete work. If we are hoping the crisis ends in a month, we will all just go back to business as usual. So God may allow it to go on for many months, knowing that the spiritual medicine so many of us need will take some time. There can be no quick fixes here when it comes to soul surgery. We are in need of major spiritual operations.

If God has to allow a major disruption of the West – and perhaps the whole world – with perhaps millions of jobs lost, major social and economic disruptions, then he may well be prepared to do that. He would far rather that we get our priorities right than just live the good – but dead – life.

Allowing us to go without so many luxuries that we are used to can be a part of how God gets our attention and how he woos us back to himself. As such, we must allow the Master Surgeon to do his work. We must allow the Great Physician the ability to work in our lives, and do deep surgery if needed.

So if we must enter into chaotic times of economic meltdown and social disarray, in order for God to get some of us to look up to him instead of to self or to governments, then so be it. God loves us too much to let us go at the first hint of discomfort and suffering.

Getting right with God for all eternity is what matters. If that means God will shut down the entire world for a year or two to do it, then that is a good thing. Let God do his work. Sure, I am not being glib here. People do have to eat and survive. We are all starting to feel the pinch with empty supermarkets, mass job losses, rationing, and even things like martial law being declared.

It will be tough on all of us, especially the poorer amongst us. The really wealthy may have all sorts of stockpiles and reserves, and can often buy themselves out of a crisis. But for most of us, this will be a very difficult time indeed. But God is in control, and we must allow him to do his work.

If he is using this to shake us out of our damnable selfishness, sinfulness and apathy, that is a good thing. We need more of it – bring it on Lord. And Scripture assures us that this indeed will take place. Consider what we find in Haggai 2:5-7: “Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations.”

And the New Testament picks up on this as we read in Hebrews 12:25-29:

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, 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.

I am not a prophet, and I am not saying COVID-19 is definitely, specifically the direct judgment of God. It certainly could be. But I do know that God is in control, that God is sovereign. So he most certainly is using this for his purposes.

The only questions we must ask as he shakes the whole world are these: Are we listening? Are we seeking to hear what God is saying? Will we allow God to draw us to himself during these dark times, or will it just be more business as usual?

[1730 words]

11 Responses to No More Business As Usual?

  • Sincere thanks for this wise balance and insight, Bill, and for such positive perspective and hope!
    It has been said that in 1932 if someone was hungry another person would be likely to share the little they had with them. With God subsequently having been pushed aside from peoples’ respect and understanding of needing to give account to Him one day, would the same happen today?

  • I wouldn’t palm too much of this onto God, this Chinese Virus is a man made virus, and it’s up to man to deal with it! I personally don’t believe God has ever sent down any plagues, diseases, pestilences or anything to wipe out mankind, and think it’s a slur on his nature to suggest so. Maybe some of the people who helped write the Bible tapped into the correct information, but a lot of them didn’t! Anyway, this is my opinion, and I’m not expecting everyone to agree with it. But as you often say Bill, no reason we can’t have a civilized debate on such things!

  • Thanks Girvan. It is one thing for me to allow polite debate on my own site – it is quite another to allow those pushing biblically destructive agendas a free run, and those who are basically calling God a liar. I fully expect atheists and sceptics to try to trash the Bible – they do it all the time – but not those who claim to be some sort of Christian. Not only is the Bible a fully reliable and authoritative document, but we have hundreds of crystal-clear passages where God most certainly does send plagues, pestilence, judgments and more on sinful and rebellious mankind. See my recent piece on this: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2020/03/20/plagues-panic-and-providence/

    Only those who want to obliterate the bulk of Scripture will make such anti-Christian claims. The holy God who wiped out humanity in a flood, saving just eight humans, is the same God who lovingly judged sin by sending his own son to die on the cross. There is no love and mercy of God without his just and holy hatred of sin. Both are found at Calvary. Pretending otherwise is just to create a god in one’s own image and likeness. Such a god will help no one.

  • Dear Bill, Thank you again for your wise words. The Australian MSM is certainly not listening! Out of all the massive amount of reporting on the corona virus there is not a whisper from any media outlet calling for people to pray to God to help us through this terrible crisis. They have shown a few people who have been showing acts of kindness towards others but they have deliberately never asked them what inspired them to be kind. They were simply not interested in whether these kind people might have been Christian. They might not have been but they could have asked. If they were the viewers might have learned something from their answers. Where does the MSM think this ethos of the Aussie ”fair go” started? It started with the pioneers of course who settled this harsh, unforgiving country with its bushfires and floods. They brought their Christian beliefs with them and practised them amongst each other.

    As you say Bill God is in control and we must pray without ceasing for His mercy and compassion. I would say to those Australians who never give God a second thought that if your life span is destined to be cut short because of the corona virus pandemic one or two more toilet rolls is not going to save your soul. Humble yourself and turn to God instead That is also what I tell myself if I am tempted to buy more than I need.

  • Lost in all the media maelstrom is a key issue that God-deniers ought to face up to. Namely, “no clear [evolutionary] explanation for the origin(s) of viruses exists.” (https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/the-origins-of-viruses-14398218/). I also remember a university biology lecturer telling us students that, given viruses cannot produce their own ATP (energy) nor reproduce without a living host, it makes no [evolutionary] sense for a virus to kill its host.
    Speaking of killing off their hosts, if the covid19 death rates in Italy translate to Australia (7%, almost always of the over-30s and especially the elderly, and 70% men) that surely means it likely won’t be “business as usual” for the Liberal/National parties at coming elections; they’ll have lost a sizable number of their voters.

  • Bill, if nobody beats me to it, the words of C S Lewis bear repeating:
    ‘God whispers in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.’
    How much pain (droughts, bushfires, floods, Coronavirus, etc) does He need to inflict before we will listen?

  • Please forgive me for getting a little “Twilight Zone” but the scriptures do say things like:-

    Psa_19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the expanse proclaims His handiwork.
    Psa_50:6 And the heavens shall declare His righteousness; for God Himself is judge. Selah.
    Psa_97:6 The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the people see His glory.
    (MKJV)

    But I could not help but notice that my first experience, and I assume of many others, of church via Youtube streaming (due to social distancing requirements) has occurred immediately after the equinox. Coincidence? The Western churches have, for many centuries now, celebrated “Easter Sunday” on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Northern Spring (our Autumn) equinox and so on many occasions our celebration of “Easter” does not occur at the same time as the Jewish calendar Passover celebration, but this year they do coincide. Add to this that this year’s Passover will occur after what some call a “super-moon” when the Moon is near its perigee (closest passing of Earth) and is around 30% brighter than when it is at its farthest point; it could just be my feelings but there definitely seems to be a synergy here with things coming into alignment.

    While super-moons do exert a large influence on the tides and move the ground as well, I understand NASA has done a study and has not seen any correlation between disasters and super-moons and when I see the majesty of such alignment my expectation is in fact the opposite – i.e. a special time of blessing this Passover. Remember the Hebrews in Egypt were also hunkered down in their houses with blood on their lintels when the angel that brought death to the first born Egyptians passed over their houses.

    I just hope people will take this opportunity to come to repentance because I believe things like this are just one more indication that God is definitely in control and when I see things like this I can’t help but feel there are blessings to be had.

  • “….and do deep surgery if needed….’

    ww2 ended lots of things, a caliphate, holocaust, European disunity, and the great depression.

    CCP virus may well end CCP, ME wars, European disunity, and the great depression.

    Chinese are about the lowest wage workers while westerners join the dole queue, all so people can buy Nike, Apple and everything else at huge markups, those that have equity are then taxed and that is distributed to western workers via baby bonus, childcare rebates, student allowances and everything else, in lieu of rising incomes, what could go wrong when you vote for a living for direct government largesse than working for one?

    That might be the free market but it’s not how you benefit from it. Trump is right in bringing jobs back to the west, and with less immigration people will be enticed back to work with the offer of aspirational incomes, and taxed for far less government intrusion.

    Thanks again and God Bless Bill.

  • I’ve found the book by Strauss and Howe.’The Fourth Turning’, written in 1997, to be really helpful because they predicted just this sort of crisis at just this time. History goes in cycles of roughly 70-80 years – the first turning starts with a burst of energy and positivity and over time becomes exhausted and unravels. The cycle we’ve been in began in 1946 with the end of WW2, and the whole globalism cycle is now coming to an end.When the crisis is over, oddly enough, most people won’t miss these ‘old days’ – the young won’r remember them and the older ones will feel strangely relieved – only the nihilistic Generation X generation will miss it, and the inner-city elites.It will certainly be a puritan century – already I can see good things coming out of this- the flood of drugs from overseas drying up, gay bars closed, the home again the centre of life. Jesus said when these things happen , hold your head high because your liberation is near at hand.

  • Dear Bill,
    As faithful Catholics my husband and I were unable to attend Holy Mass today, something we are going to miss very much. However, we said the rosary and other prayers at the time Mass would have been taking place at our local church.It occurred to me during my prayers that Christians should place something Christian over their doors as an act of trust in God’s mercy and compassion.

    This happened in Biblical times when the ancient Jews were slaves in Eygpt and Moses told them to mark their doors with the blood of a lamb so the angel of death would “Passover” their homes and not take their first born sons. They must have been so afraid on that night just as many are now about the corona virus but even as we are called to help ourselves as much as possible as Christians we are called also to trust in Jesus.

    As a Catholic I already had a crucifix attached to my front door and a Benedictine medal embedded in the plaster over the door so if it is God’s will we may be spared the worst.However,even before this pandemic became evident my husband and I as we are both in our mid eighties were becoming resigned to the fact that it was unrealistic to think that we could reasonably expect too many more years even though myself especially have kept reasonably healthy. We have reminded ourselves constantly that God has been good by granting us long and happy lives.

    I can understand to some extent the real fear much younger people have and the health authorities have warned them not to be complacent because the corona virus has killed younger people too so if they have any belief in Jesus at all I would advise them to put their trust in Him before anything else.They can still be sensible going about their daily lives.

    I wish everyone good health and happiness and may Jesus and Mary watch over you all.

  • The reason for the uptick in church attendance after 9/11 was people wanted to be comforted and that is EXACTLY what the church did! They held people’s hands and said there, there. There, there. When we should have been preaching to them to bring them to Christ we just acted as grief councillors. And so many having found their comfort left because there was no reason to stay. Some might have thought we’ll hit ’em with the full gospel after they feel better but as always happens with this excuse something else always comes up to delay hitting ’em with the full gospel.

    Not all of us are nihilistic Nina. But then again I have always felt out of place in my generation.

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