Spotlight 18/2020: As masters of our destiny, we continue to strive

At the beginning of the year, no one could have imagined what the year would hold in store. The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly changed things, but it has not affected our striving for the kingdom of God, says District Apostle Helper John Sobottka from Canada.

When our motto “Christ makes free” was issued for 2020, we had no idea what the year would hold in store. As always, however, as God’s children we held an enormous hope and huge expectation for the year ahead. As ministers we started to reinforce the motto whenever and wherever possible. The Chief Apostle underlined and deepened the idea of Christ makes free in his divine services. Everything was moving along and developing mostly as planned and expected.

Then, within approximately eight weeks of the first divine service of the year, totally unexpected events occurred, which very quickly changed the world as we knew it. Covid-19 affected almost all aspects of life around the entire world, including the spiritual dynamic of “Christ makes free”. For sure, the fundamentals remained the same: God is free, Christ makes free, we too can be free. However, living with a global pandemic that removed many of our freedoms as we knew them certainly caused us to take stock of our lives, what we were doing, and how things would proceed. Many freedoms which we had enjoyed, such as national and international travel, going to work, exercising, socialising, going out to eat, were suddenly taken away. Many things we did as matter of course were impossible. A total shift had taken place.

Freedom, for many, was lost or drastically reduced. For us, the greater impact was no divine services, no forgiveness, no Holy Communion, no congregational fellowship, no Sunday School, etc. It turned our world upside down. In these times it was often difficult to speak of freedom, let alone reinforce that idea. Our concentration turned to dealing with the new realities of life. Thanks to our heavenly Father, however, ways and means were developed so that we did not lose touch with our spiritual reality in the present – nor for the future. We became convinced that even under pandemic conditions freedom in Christ is indeed possible.

Extraordinary times called for extraordinary measures. The Lord helped! He continued to provide everything necessary for our salvation. In many areas, the divine service attendance in eChurch virtual services increased from live Sunday attendances. The Holy Spirit’s activity continued and we truly realised that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3: 17). And if we allow it and want it the Spirit of the Lord will continue to transform us.

The pandemic did not stop this freedom! We came to realise, even more so, that we truly can remain masters of our own destiny even though many had lost hope, and the world around us was in chaos. As God’s children, we still look to the future with confidence and can freely serve our heavenly Father. Serving our fellow man has even taken on a new intense focus. We can serve and do good works simply through the love of Christ, as expressed through our actions towards our neighbour. In the “new reality”, we have learned to adapt and remain in contact with one another in innovative ways. No one needs to feel isolated or alone, or “robbed” of their freedom.

Now that we are slowly returning to church there are many challenges. The Chief Apostle very recently used 1 Peter 5: 7 in a divine service: “…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Christ delivers us from our cares. He even advises us to unburden these cares on Him, including our material and spiritual ones. In humility and with great resolve and effort on our part, we can do so. He is the greatest and knows us, our struggles, and our needs better than we do. If we give Him the priority, all other things can be added unto us. We have experienced this over and over again with our brothers and sisters. They have not let anything rob them of their relationship with their heavenly Father. The conditions of life, even if heightened by this pandemic, do not stop them from standing free with Christ.

As masters of our destiny, we continue to strive to the ultimate freedom: His kingdom and for eternal fellowship.

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John Sobottka
District Apostle Helper, motto