COVID-19 and the Christian Community
We're living through a pandemic. 4 weeks ago as we celebrated, ignored or hated valentine's day, we couldn't have guessed that this was ahead of us. A least not most of us. We watched it walk across the globe, starting with a step at a time then progressing to a full out sprint. Could you have imagined it's impact on life as we knew it? I literally feel like I'm living in a movie. The writer in me keeps coming up with sci-fi and conspiracy storylines ranging from the release of a virus to amend human biology for further nefarious purposes or biological warfare by a state that does not mind losing a proportion of its own population. In the latter story, could it be China, or have they been set up by another country? Could it be a western counterpart or is it a government that you'd never suspect? I say all that not to make light of the current situation, but to highlight the fact that as much as it feels so real, it is completely surreal. When I think about what we're facing, it feels like I’m watching a story unfold while waiting for the closing credits so I can step back out into the sunlight. Surreal as it may be, it is a true story and most likely a story we will tell for a long time to come.
So now that I have to face reality, one of the main questions on my mind has been, “as a Christian what should my reaction be?” This has felt like a heavy question at times with accusations of lack of faith or over-spirituality in response to church closures and churches continuing to meet. But however heavy the question may be, it is still one that requires an answer. And not just from a collective perspective but from a personal point of view. Beyond the starting point of praying, praying and praying some more, my question is what does being the salt of the earth look like in this situation? What does it mean for me and for the people around me? I've been going to God about understanding the times and the seasons we are in. Actually, that has been an ongoing prayer for me in 2020, but that's a separate conversation about alignment. In this context, my focus has been with regards to what the world is facing. So far, here are the answers I have (a) worship, (b) power, love & sound mind and (c) reaching out.
Worship - In so many ways worship is on my heart this year and when the coronavirus panic started my Pastor mentioned that our response should be worship. At the time it was simply a note I made in my sermon notes. It didn't really click till in my personal worship time, where my faith was built up as familiar songs reminded me that I serve a more than capable God. Apart from this, the main reason we need to continue in worship is because He is worthy of it. Over the years, I have had the privilege to learn that in every circumstance I may face, God is always deserving of worship. Worship is not always about giving thanks for the good things in our lives, that’s why it’s distinct from thanksgiving. Though difficult circumstances still do go hand in hand with thanksgiving, but let’s not digress. My point is that worship is the human reaction to who God is and while life as we know may have changed, God hasn't changed so neither should our reaction. He is glorious, He is majestic, He is good, He is awesome, and He is most definitely worthy of our worship. Let us worship Him, it is to our benefit.
Power, Love and Sound Mind - This was one of the first things I was comfortable posting on my Instagram feed with regards to coronavirus. The reaction of the world has been fear, panic and oddly enough the hoarding of toilet paper. It feels important to remember that I am in the world, but not of the world. My emotional and spiritual reaction should not be aligned with the world’s. It feels important to highlight that while the world may be afraid, fear is not in my spiritual DNA. 2 Timothy 1: 7 says that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. So how can I be the salt of the earth in light of COVID-19 and the global reaction of fear? I choose to walk in power, act out love as described in 1 Corinthians 13 and fight for my sound mind. And in the times where I know this theoretically, but my emotions and my mind want to go down the path of worry, that’s where worship comes in. It is supremely difficult to utter words such as “now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever.” (1 Timothy 1: 17) and be seated in fear.
Reaching Out - there are so many ways to reach out in the middle of this crisis. In fact, I view it is an opportunity to have an impact on my community, whether it’s helping out a neighbour, or supporting a food bank or even not hoarding toilet roll so someone else has the chance to buy some. And those are all good things and required from me in my identity as the salt of the earth. However, in response to such a visible spirit of fear in so many pockets of life, my inkling has been to reach out to calm the storm in others. The spirit of power, love and sound mind that has been given to me is not just for my benefit but should also be used to bless others. I have been blessed by so many leaders in the Christian community who have led the charge with this. They have calmed the communities they lead by sharing messages of hope and love, building up the faith of the body of Christ as in Hebrews 10: 24 - 25. I hope that in my sphere of influence, I can help to ease fear with my words, actions and behaviour.
And even after 5 paragraphs, this is still my starting point. I cannot pretend to know the source of this and as much as I wish I could say I have some sort of mind-blowing revelation on this, I’m not there yet. I’m still walking, praying, studying and worshipping this out. I’d encourage you to also press in and seek God’s face both in this season and in every season to come.
Side note: this toilet roll thing still baffles me. I can follow the reasoning for hoarding hand sanitiser or food (as much as I disagree with it), but toilet roll? Why? No really, I’m asking. If you know or if you did do it, please comment below. I’ve asked the instafamily and no one’s figured it out yet.
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