For Christians and churches in New Zealand, the past one year has been a somewhat interesting time. We have had rude awakenings from the passing of an extreme abortion law and more recently, the passing of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Bill. The latter has been dubbed by some as the most anti-democratic bill put before the New Zealand parliament.
While some may argue that these laws do not and should not affect our faith, the reality is that they do challenge what we believe in and affect how we are able to practice our faith.
Restricted, silenced and policed
For decades, Christians in countries like New Zealand have had the comfort of attending church without restrictions, preaching without being silenced and practicing our faith without being policed. In what seems almost like a blink of an eye, walls have been built around us.
Where there was once freedom to gather, we are now subjected to a no more than 10 gathering (current restrictions at Level 2 as I write this article). This makes it impossible even for the smallest of churches to meet.Arguing that the restriction is there for a reason is a little redundant when you find out that people can go to strip clubs, parks and cinemas. Yes, they still have to keep to a bubble of ten, but it is ridiculous that religious gatherings do not get the same courtesy to be able to practice safe social distancing when meeting.
Choosing abortion or practicing the LGBT lifestyle were once considered unthinkable. Today, preach about how it is sin, and watch how you are silenced because those conversations are considered hate speech. The Israel Folau case is a classic example of this.
Those are the numbers that helped pass the above mentioned bills in New Zealand parliament. They suggest that we have lost some battles when it comes to religious freedom.
If we look at what is happening in the natural, the freedom of the church seems to have been ripped off our very hands. We are left with Christians who are still in their comfortable pews baffled and nonchalant about how their faith is being attacked. There are also some of us that has jumped into the boat called fear because we have never had our faith shaken as much as it has now.
“Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?”
We find ourselves in the shoes of the servant of the man of God, Elisha, (2 Kings chapter 6, verse 15) crying out the very same words centuries later. The numbers are against us. We are surrounded and the enemy is pressing in. The anxiety and fear is crippling.
But Elisha saw beyond the natural. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings chapter 6, verse 16). It was not just words of assurance to a servant who I am sure must be thinking that they would be dead very soon. He saw what God was doing supernaturally.
I love what Elisha does next. He does not stop and limit only himself to what he sees. He prays, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see” (2 Kings chapter 6, verse 17). Imagine the burden that was lifted from his shoulders when “the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings chapter 6, verse 17).
When we are losing battles in the natural realm, will we be like the servant and let fear take over? Or will we choose to be like Elisha and see the supernatural? God has never lost control. His angel armies outnumber any parliamentary votes.
It is only human to feel fear and have worries. It does not make us less spiritual or means that our faith is questionable. We can come to Jesus just as we are and lay down our insecurities during these challenging times at His feet. In exchange, He gives us peace. He gives us strength. He gives us courage.
It is so easy to be an agent of fear. Let’s challenge ourselves to be like Elisha and spread faith that sees beyond the natural.
Mussita Ng is a follower of Jesus Christ from Wellington, New Zealand. Her previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mussita-ng.html