During this time of Coronavirus, isolation and the whole world practically grinding to a halt, many business including churches have continued almost as normal, moving online. A few voices can be heard, however, crying out for this time of forced rest to be a time to humble ourselves before God, to seek His face and to repent.
Repentance is not just a change of mind, it requires action. And repentance is not just something the church should call the nation to, it must start within the people of God.
But why has it primarily been lone voices calling for the seeking after God, examining our hearts and repentance at this time? Why have the mainstream churches in the UK stayed silent except to call Boris to repentance for his support of Dominic Cummings? Why is it so hard for the church to call for repentance?
I think the answer in some way can be found within the individualisation of society in the Western world, which has heavily influenced the Christian faith. The laws which have been passed in the last 50 years highlight the individuals rights to live in whatever way they chose, doing whatever they chose, without regard to the effect it has on anyone else.
The priority of the individual within society is perhaps a sin for which we are seeing God's judgement during this time, as we are handed over to our sinful desires through extreme isolation from others. By making life about my own journey rejects the relational way in which we were made, not only with each other, but God as well.
Within churches, this individualisation has led to the Christian faith being between you and God. Moreover, sin is something you do against God, or against another person, and so is something you feel convicted of individually, and therefore confess and repent of individually. There is a loss of the corporate nature of faith, the body of Christ together, and in this way also the corporate nature of sin.
He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. (1)
As the church fails to call the body of Christ to seek God's face and repent as a corporate body, they fail to acknowledge the corporate life of the Christian, and the corporate sins too. Indeed, the Bible provides an account of the corporate nature of sin from the start, 'Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned'(2).
Until we acknowledge that the Christian faith is not an individualised faith, but a life together, in both the blessings and the sins, the church will neither be able to call the body of Christ as a whole to repentance, nor the apostate nation in which we live. During this time when we are still isolated and distanced from each other, we have the opportunity to seek God and ask Him to examine us and reveal not only our individual sins, but also the sins of the body together.
(1) Bonhoeffer, Life, 86.
(2) Romans 5:12, NIV.