Can You Hear Me Now?

“Can you hear me now?”

It wasn’t that long ago a guy in a yellow shirt would interrupt our television entertainment to ask that annoying question. Even as I consider the ridiculousness yet genius of that marketing campaign, I realize how important his question is today.

Some time ago, this same guy started showing up in another commercial for a competing phone service. But he was asking the same question, “Can you hear me now?” The narrator then would ramble about all the ways that this company offered a better service than the guy’s previous employer. Both companies were trying to get us to do two things that we want and need to do: connect to and communicate with other humans. Additionally, they were offering us tools to accomplish both things.

As we survey that land over the past few months, we cannot escape the fact that the world is changing all around us. As we watch the church trying to adjust to the new normal and figure things out, I am glad that we have the resources and technology to give people what they want and need. I have appreciated the work and dedication of our church staff who ensure that we have online services and Bible studies. And I am also asking myself and others, What do you think God is speaking to us, the church, right now?

I suspect the answer to that question looks quite different now than it did six months ago, because we had to do without the trappings of buildings, programs and events for a time. It was just us, the church, God’s people. We are still the ones that he has called to redemption, to submit to the Spirit during times of weakness, to weep with those who weep and to pray, “If it be the Lord’s will, we will do this or that.”

The apostle Paul was the first to tell us that all creation is groaning and crying out for redemption and for the children of God to appear (Rom. 8:19–22). Do you hear me now? I cannot help but think that the church must answer in a new way. Our response cannot only be trying to put the old trappings of how we did church into a new package by using technology to enforce the same programming. Sure, we may get a decent signal for those who are privileged enough to have internet services and electronic devices in their homes. However, that’s just like switching cell phone companies.

Might God be asking us to define the church again on his terms? Might he want the entire church actively engaged in the kingdom work of love and grace, truth and justice as we walk together humbly? Since Jesus is the high priest who intercedes for us, might we together embrace the full rights and responsibilities of being the people of God?

As we revisit the ancient ways of house churches, prayerful intercession, partaking of holy sacraments and loving our neighbors as ourselves, may we reflect on the goodness and grace of God as he asks, “Can you hear me now?”

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Natasha Sistrunk Robinson
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is an author, podcast host, president of T3 Leadership Solutions, Inc. and visionary founder of Leadership LINKS, Inc.