The constant changes brought by COVID-19 have affected every person differently. Santa Fe Christian applauds its students, teachers, and staff for their adaptability in adjusting to this crisis. Like many classes and activities, SFC also moved its Chapel sessions to an online format. The SFC staff and administration are thankful for those who have shared an encouraging word. Austin Payne, High School Pastor at North Coast Church, challenged the community in his recent online Chapel message.
Austin highlights a familiar but sometimes misunderstood passage. In Matthew 11 (NIV), Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” A yoke originally served as a farming tool, common in an agricultural society. Two oxen carried a wooden yoke across them to pull a heavy load together. “The oxen are able to pull at the same strength. Jesus is saying His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.”
In the middle of quarantine at home, many people may find their “normal distractions like sports, surfing, going to the beach, hanging out with friends…even the normal way of going to church and being with people, all of that has kind of been stripped away.” Left with only themselves most of the time, “[people] still have video games, social media, and plenty of other distractions, but for me, Jesus is saying ‘I’m not offering you an escape from this world. I’m offering you equipment to tackle this world.’”
So what happens when quarantine has removed so many parts of our normal lives? In Austin’s favorite verse, Jesus continues in John 10:10 saying “the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come to give you life abundant.” Sometimes the enemy uses very clever strategies, like finding “my identity in the way that I play sports, or in my academics, or even honestly, how good of a Christian I can be.” The bigger concern is that we “can get caught up in those things and miss Jesus,” Austin says.
How does Jesus equip us to overcome instead of escape the world? Paul summarizes this in 1 Timothy 6 (NIV). “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant, not to put their hope in their wealth which is so uncertain.’ (vs. 17).” Austin encourages against finding our “grounding in the things that we have or in the comforts around us. It says, ‘but put your hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment, command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and willing to share in this way. They will lay up treasure for themselves and a firm foundation for the coming age. So that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.’”
Reevaluating Relationships with Jesus
And this is where we find life, Austin believes. Even in the midst of something like Coronavirus when so much is taken away, “what we’re left with is Jesus.” He comes to us continually, “He said, ‘Come to me, all those who are weary, all who are burdened, all who are tired’ … this is nice, in theory, for me,” Austin admits, “but when I’m left with literally nothing to do, and I’m in my house … I’m forced to face the question, is Jesus enough for me?”
In this season of social isolation, are we in relationship with Jesus? “Is he what I actually want? Or do I kind of like the things that he gives and the comforts provided in this life more than I actually like Jesus himself.”
Austin invites us to imagine heaven, with the best food, and our favorite people, and “it’s just the most beautiful landscape you’ve ever seen” he says. “Imagine your perfection, and that’s heaven, you get to be there for eternity. But Jesus isn’t there.” How does our heart respond? Is this unsettling and does it “strike our core?” Do we say to Jesus, “You are what I want, You are what I desire.”
John 17:3 says, “This is eternal life, that you may know God and Jesus Christ whom He sent.”
“Eternity is not a Sunday thing. It’s in our grasp right here, right now. It’s life, and life abundant, which is knowing Jesus” Austin says.
Scriptures like Romans 8, state that “God will work out all things for the good of those who believe in Christ Jesus.” Austin clarifies that “the good is found in relationship with Jesus. It’s not found in the comforts around me. It’s not found in the ability to … go to church or school or engage with friends at the beach or surf or whatever it may be for you that you’re so missing right now.”
As we navigate quarantine day in and day out, do we find new satisfaction and fulfillment in spending time in God’s word and prayer, “which is simply talking to the person that loves you the most,” Austin asks. Let’s “continue to ask ourselves if Jesus is enough for me?”