Many of you may be alarmed to read that COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the global Pandemic which has halted much of Global life and caused so much havoc, is being described as an opportunity. Perhaps that’s why you clicked the link; to find out if there was a biblical backing for this assertion and so see the points developed.
It is first important to understand the scale and scope of the crisis so far. Coronavirus is a new illness that can affect lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus. There is lots of information about coronavirus which can be found here (NHS.UK). The Government has asked everyone to avoid gatherings, crowded places and unnecessary travel to stop its spreading. As of the 22nd of March 2020, more than 5,000 people in the UK with COVID-19-related deaths in the UK currently at 233. Across the world, a similar image emerges, with over 319,134 confirmed cases and more than 13,697 deaths.
The crisis is causing crippling fear, panic and disillusionment as medical experts hurry for a vaccine whilst national governments consider new and extreme measures to try and save dying economies. If the fallout from the global crisis could be summed up in one word: one may say fear. Fear as families under quarantine wonder when they will be allowed out again. Fear as workers wonder where they next paycheck may come from. Fear as churches forced to close wonder how the Gospel may spread with doors shut. As we consider this fear, it may be reticent of the same kind of fear that often confronted the early church in Acts. Fear when a young Stephen was stoned to death in Acts 7:54 – 60 for believing in Jesus. Fear as Saul on a rampage persecuted the church in Jerusalem in Acts 8 1 – 4 as all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
You see crisis isn’t new. Whether you look at the first-century church or the modern church, the bride of Christ has always existed in a world gripped by fear. Persecution has always punctuated the experience of the church. Because of this, we can look into the bible to the appropriate response to the fear our world is currently confronted with.
An opportunity to manifest our faith
In a time where society seems to be singing the same song, COVID-19 presents the believer with a wonderful opportunity to sing a different song. It is a perfect time to make manifest the faith we profess. The believer should be the most balanced, the most stable, the most sane, and the most hopeful because we know where we are heading., Eternity is settled for the believer and in the face of fear, Isaiah 41:10 comes to mind where God makes the promises to his chosen people: ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ The worst thing that could ever happen to us (death), because of Gods redemptive work through Jesus, becomes the best thing.
Jesus also preaches directly about worrying and fear. He came into an unstable and unpredictable world. He lived in an agricultural society where one summer’s drought could wipe out crops for the winter. He hung out with fishermen, who might fish all night long and catch nothing to sell or bring home to family. And Jesus knew the human heart and the temptations presented by the cares of this life. So he gave his disciples some excellent instruction on worry in Matthew 6 25 – 27:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
Jesus teaches us here that worry does absolutely no good. It won’t bring in money, food, or clothing. Worry only has negative results: it chokes the word of God and distracts us from God. It is unbelief, the opposite of faith. It leads to more fear and anxiety. And the different scenarios we play out in our minds can’t prevent a single thing from happening. Besides that, most of the things we spend so much time fretting about won’t happen anyway.
We have a golden opportunity now to make our faith clear by being the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). Our disposition must be salted. That means it is so different that others are marvelled by our composure and assurance in a time where it seems foolish to be so assured. This is the time for those who have their hope in Jesus to demonstrate it by being calm, collected and assured. The kingdom of God is joy in the Holy Spirit and so it is time to show that.
Our Assignment is the same
Whether in famine or feast, our assignment as believers remains the same. This is why it is slightly jarring when Christians faced with darkness choose to retreat or cower in fear. This is the opposite of what God does, Jesus does, the Holy Spirit does and by extension, we should do.
God loved and loves to invade darkness with light. He demonstrated this when He became flesh for our sake. Jesus continued this ministry, taking His message of reconciliation across the world into some of the darkest recesses of human life. In the beatitude, He teaches us that, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we too should do the same Mathew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Christians shouldn’t think COVID-19 changes our assignment. No, the very darkness we see in the world, is the prerequisite for our shining. It is a platform for us to preach about the hope we have in glory! This crisis whilst creating fear and confusing also gives believes a wonderful opportunity to preach the Good news of Jesus Christ and to see a large number of people turn back to him.
This is the time to show resolve, to help those who need help and to not dim out light but shine it brighter than its ever shone before! Let me know about the hope you have.