Responding in a distinctively Christian way to the virus situation

Responding in a distinctively Christian way to the virus situation

The world is in the midst of a coronavirus panic. Many aspects of life we usually take for granted are being changed or removed. It is all that anyone is talking about. How do we respond to such a crisis? In this brief blog post, I want to mention two unhelpful responses to the crisis and two ways that Christians should think about the situation we face.

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  1. The irresponsible faith response

A Pentecostal church in Perth, which I choose not to name, released a statement to its members last week which included these lines (which were picked up by all major news agencies):

“Your health and safety is a top priority for us and we have taken a proactive approach to keep our church family health and safe,” the statement read. “We are in agreement that this Convid-19 will not come near our dwelling or our church family. We are praying daily for you, knowing that we are all protected by the Blood of Jesus.

The statement also includes a bible verse from Psalm 91:9-10, which states, “No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.”

Although this sounds very holy and trusting, it is poor theology. Christians are not immune from getting sick. The apostle Paul suffered from a thorn in his flesh. The prophets had terrible afflictions and persecutions. The Bible looks forward to a world with no more mourning or crying or pain, but that world is off in the future. Right now, Christians and non-Christians suffer the effects of sin, which include sickness. We cannot assume we will not get sick; that does not line up with the message of the Bible. This is an irresponsible message to the church and the world and affirms those who reject Christianity in their view that Christians are not reasonable people

2. The panic and fear response

The opposite response is one we see more commonly. People are fighting over toilet paper and flour in supermarkets. Social media is full of worried people saying we should disinfect everything and stay away from everyone. Whatever the expert advice is, many respond with greater fear and panic than is warranted.

Yes, Christians should be concerned and sensible. But panic and fear are unnecessary. The great irony is that many are staying away from churches and church events right now at a time when they need the encouragement of other Christians the most. There may come a time when we need to suspend services and events, but as long as we can, we should try to encourage one another and grow together, taking sensible precautions as we do so.

Two opportunities to serve Jesus well

It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, panic and fear. There are excellent opportunities to serve Jesus now, just like there are in any circumstance. Let me outline two.

  1. The reason for the hope that we have response

Many are worried and realise that their comfortable lives and seemingly certain futures are not as certain as they expected them to be. The world is no longer the safe place they assumed it was. They panic because they don’t know how to cope with this information.

Into this context, Christians have something to say. We don’t need to worry because we know God holds the future. We always knew the future in this life was uncertain; we also know that our eternal future is secure. This crisis might lead to evangelistic opportunities that we have not seen for a long time in this country. Look for opportunities to share the hope that you have.

2. The care for those in need response

Our supermarket crisis is showing that most are in it for themselves. I need toilet paper and will fight others to get it! Christians must be willing to help others in such a crisis. Have you checked on your elderly neighbours to see if they need anything? Have you called those who have avoided church due to feeling unwell or having an underlying health condition that makes it dangerous for them? We can show love instead of selfishness in this crisis and stand out like a city on a hill or salt in a dish of food.

Brothers and sisters, we need to act differently to the world in all circumstances. This crisis is a test to see if we will. Your faith should lead to a different life, not marked by panic, but a calm confidence in Jesus, whatever might come. Pray for the world, look after your neighbours and church family members, and know God remains in control today like he did last month.