In the same year as the First Fleet set sail for Botany Bay, a Scottish professor—Alexander Tyler—wrote these famous words about the eight stages of democratic societies:
1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence to bondage.
Change has always been with us, but with the arrival of 2020, the rate of change has escalated dramatically.
An enemy we cannot even see has changed our world so swiftly and comprehensively. Coronavirus has had a crushing effect. Businesses that were riding high have disintegrated. Jobs have vanished. And now, what some have called a ‘second pandemic’ has erupted in the USA with rioting and protests at a scale previously unseen.
Our world is hurting with so many people grappling for healing, truth and justice.
But amongst all the challenges, great things are happening. Crises tend to bring out both the best and worst in people, and many believers are taking seriously the call of God to be His hands and feet. We felt it strongly with the amazing show of support we saw during last month’s Visionathon — believers across the nation linking arms in solidarity to ensure the transmission of the Gospel can continue in a time when many are fearful or not coping well with isolation.
Calls to our prayer line are always a good indication of what is weighing on hearts and minds across the nation. Many have called in to ask that we pray for the entire nation, and others for themselves as they struggle with depression or undergo testing or suffer abuse. Deborah was one, reaching out to us for prayer for a struggling friend: ‘My request is for a friend from our mental health group. She is suffering a dark time during the Covid-19 crisis. The family she is forced to stay with is not being supportive. She also has a long-term condition that causes coughing which she can’t stop when she is in public. She has been verbally attacked for it. Please pray for her safety and her salvation.’
Isolation is something many of us are not used to. The flood of feedback we’ve had in appreciation for Vision’s Sunday Morning Together initiative has shown how much believers themselves have been being affected by the lockdowns. It has been our privilege to help believers to worship ‘together in isolation’ each Sunday.
This is a time like no other since the Second World War. Will we emerge from it all with the same society as when it started? Unlikely. Will we be so far into Professor Tyler’s eighth stage that we’ve gone from dependence into bondage? Or has God pressed the reset button on our world far enough that we might be ready to pass from bondage to spiritual faith once more? Let’s pray it is so as we keep taking hold of the opportunities God has placed before us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ today and for years to come.