When we get stressed and our routine gets disrupted, a frequent casualty is our relationship with God. Ideally, stress and anxiety would drive us toward God. However, the opposite is more common. Here are four pitfalls that threaten our relationship with God during COVID.
1. The urgent is prioritized over the important
The stresses of COVID have driven us into survival mode. A problem with survival mode is that we lose sight of what is best long-term. We prioritize the urgent over the important. We are tempted to take the easier routes to avoid additional stress. What gets sacrificed along the way? The things that don’t seem necessary right now. This includes intentional time with God and with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
2. Typical routines are disrupted
Our relationship with God ought to be about much more than simply “going to church.” However, there is something powerful about the weekly rhythm of worship services, Sunday-morning classes, Bible studies, Midweek Student Ministry, iGnite, and more. If these activities are part of our routine, they guarantee that at least once a week, we will focus on God. The same goes for daily rhythms of personal Bible study and prayer. COVID has significantly changed our rhythms, frequently at the detriment of our relationship with God as well as our children’s spiritual growth.
3. Comfort becomes king
Are you more comfortable watching an online worship service in your living room or traveling to church on Sunday morning? Many people favor their living room. But comfort should not be the determining factor in whether to worship together with fellow Christians. Safety during the pandemic is a legitimate factor, and I fully support those who choose to abstain from in-person gatherings due to health concerns.
That being said, we must recognize that people are disengaging from church. Study after study is showing an alarmingly high percentage of Christians who began watching online services in March and April but are no longer watching online or attending in person. They have entirely disengaged. Therefore, we must recognize that watching from home, especially because it is more comfortable and convenient, is a slippery slope that can lead to a pattern of decreasing engagement, and eventual non-engagement, in the life of a church. This is spiritually dangerous.
4. Relationships fade
At Friedens, we value “discipleship through relationships.” Relationships are vital for spiritual growth because of the encouragement, accountability, and camaraderie they provide – not to mention the way we can “sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17). In addition, relationships are like glue that holds a church together. However, relationships have taken a big hit in recent months due to COVID. We have become more isolated, which creates myriad problems, including in our relationship with God.
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” Jesus is telling us that God and His Kingdom ought to be our #1 priority. Therefore, I encourage you to clarify in your mind what your priorities are. Is God your #1 priority? If so, how can you intentionally ensure that your rhythms and relationships – along with the rhythms and relationships of your family – support and nurture the priority of your relationship with God? This is not easy, and it’s not something to take for granted. But it is well worth the effort.