One of the most popular theories behind God allowing COVID 19 is the removal of our distractions. However, I posit that the most dangerous distraction for a Christian is neither social gatherings nor social media, but godly alternatives to their God-given purpose.
So close but yet so far
Godly alternatives lure us away from God’s primary purpose in our lives because they’re so close to the real thing. Like feeding the homeless or starting a Bible study, they are morally upright and even helpful activities. Nevertheless, they’re not the specific task that God is calling us to do in a specific moment, and therefore, they’re a misleading imitation of God’s will for lives in that season.
Imitation is a trademark of the Devil’s modus operandi. He masquerades like an angel of light (2 Corinthians chapter 11, verse 14) even though he is the Prince of Darkness (Ephesians chapter 6, verse 12). He prowls around like a roaring lion (1 Peter chapter 5, verse 8), mimicking Jesus who actually is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation chapter 5, verse 5).
Masked with morality
The distractions embedded in a godly alternative are masked with morality. As Christians, we are not called to simply be moral. Persons of all faiths are moral. As Joseph Prince brilliantly puts it, "The problem with flesh is not with morality, it's submitting to the supremacy of Christ. The flesh has no problem being moral as long as it's the one in control." When we get complacent in pursuing the voice of God and His unique direction over our lives, we settle for moral activities since our consciences can still be unscathed.
Convenience over calling
It’s tempting to be swept up in the tide of commonplace, moral activities when they are more convenient than God’s specific calling. A naturally talented and gifted singer can unsurprisingly feel called to be a worship leader at her church because it requires less practice and effort than being a missionary. An eloquent Christian can find it easier to preach a sermon because it requires less vulnerability than discipling a teenager and exposing the mistakes he made in his youth.
The word “idol” starts with “I”. If I find myself leaning more towards a ministry that makes me feel comfortable, accomplished or significant, I need to prayerfully ask God to reveal if those reasons are pulling me to that ministry more than His will.
“Logos” vs “Rhema”
Godly alternatives are also easily justified with scripture. That’s why it’s so easy for us as Christians to justify investing our time, energy and resources into them instead of what God actually wants us to do.
The Bible instructs us to do certain things that, in neutral circumstances, would be wise and commendable. But if an innocuous activity like taking a census of your country’s fighting men before embarking on war can be handiwork of Satan himself (1 Chronicles chapter 21, verse 1), we would be wise to examine out hearts and motives carefully to see if our good actions may have bad motives.
It also highlights the need to be able to distinguish God’s voice beyond His written word (logos) to the word spoken by the Holy Spirit (rhema) as He witnesses to our spirit (Romans chapter 8, verse 16).
Lost in the applause
Very often, the specific thing that God is commanding us to do is what He tells us in secret and wants us to do in secret, where no one else can see and applaud for us doing it. While this characteristic cannot be assumed carte blanche, it is worth noting how often Jesus cautions us in Matthew chapter 6 to do things “in secret”, like practicing your righteousness (verse 1), giving to the needy (verses 2-4), praying (verses 5-6) and fasting (verses 16-18).
On the contrary, godly alternatives usually get endorsed by Christians around us who mean us well. But their encouragement, applause and praise can seduce us into serving and investing into ministries that we are not called to do. It is easy to overlook God’s specific instruction to us because our peers and leaders don’t notice it, and therefore don’t have the revelation to endorse it. Without confidence in our ability to distinguish God’s voice and calling, we fall prey to the voice of others, and give their voice more clout than it deserves.
Role of prophecy
The modern, Western church has lost its reverence for the prophetic word. It is treated as another option on a menu of reasonable things to pick, choose and refuse instead of as a time-sensitive instruction from God Himself. For many of us, this distrust has been triggered and cemented from ample experience of spiritual abuse from misguided peers and selfish leaders.
Nevertheless, human beings (however limited and flawed) are still the righteousness of God in the earth, are still used by God as His mouthpiece in the five-fold ministry and are still a primary vessel through which He shares His word to His children in the body of Christ. By not separating traumatic past experiences from present prophetic words, many of us miss what God is telling us to do and therefore forfeit the grace to enable us to do it.
Obedience is better than sacrifice
1 Samuel chapter 15, verse 22 rings as loud today in our 2020 quarantine as it did in King Saul’s distraught ears: “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” As COVID 19 strips away our social distractions, may wisdom and radical obedience to God strip away our spiritual distractions too.
Kacy Garvey is a Christian poet, speaker and activist. In 2011, she launched "Rahab", an outreach to prostitutes in Geneva, Switzerland. She is a USAID certified HIV Testing and Counselling Provider and has also successfully completed training in Trafficking in Persons conducted by the International Organisation on Migration (IOM). She performs original pieces of spoken word poetry to various audiences, and in 2014 and 2018, she launched “Undone” and “Water Jar”, the first and only Christian poetry albums published in Jamaica thus far. As a founding member of the Love March Movement (since 2012) and #MarriageMattersJA (since 2018), she is a regular presenter on the science, politics and biblical worldviews on sex and sexuality. She hosts the new TV series “MTM News Magazine” which can be streamed live on www.mercyandtruth.tv.