- absolutely necessary; extremely important.
During the current pandemic this word has appeared much more frequently in our papers, notices and news stories than would be usual. In our modern free thinking, moving and living society, the word essential carries a compulsion and conformity that we are simply not used to. But it has become ‘essential’ that we do certain things and behave in certain ways for the good of others.
People have gone to extraordinary lengths in changing their usual habits and patterns of living in order to accommodate the new rules that have been imposed on them. Some have done this because the law requires it. Most have, in my opinion, adopted at least some of these rules, in the belief that it is for their own good and keep others safe.
Outside of our current extra-ordinary times it is remarkable how few people are willing to make any changes to their habits and behaviours for the good of themselves and others around them. Because they can’t see the damage, because there is no direct link to the vulnerable and the ventilator people fail to see that their actions have consequences for themselves and others. Changes aren’t seen as essential because we haven’t (perhaps purposely) emphasised the link between these actions and consequences.
It is unfashionable for the church to be seen telling people what they ought to do and how they ought to live their lives. Indeed, much modern worship and spirituality seems to result in affirming existing habits and behaviours rather than seeking to truly transform. God does not love you just the way you are, he loves you because of the potential you have to become something quite different, something infinitely better than even we can imagine.
Places of worship, fellowship and service have all received quite a rough handling during the current pandemic. Firstly, we were asked to close our doors and stop meeting with one another and now we have had further restrictions placed upon our worship. We do have been recategorized alongside cinemas, pubs and other forms of entertainment and gathering place as part of life’s non-essential luxuries. I am not surprised and, in a society, where most people are not believers, I wouldn’t expect anything else. My surprise has been in seeing just how many Christians have been willing to accept this recategorization of our faith and worship as a non-essential luxury.
As Christians we need to remind people (and ourselves) that what we have in clay jars is as essential as the food on the supermarket shelves or the ventilators on a high dependency ward. It is water in a desert and our harbour in the storm of life. It is essential, to use this term that we see so much now, that we believe and completely change our habits and behaviours for our own good and the good of others. Not a luxury, not a hobby, but absolutely necessary and extremely important.