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Christ and the Corona Virus (Toward a Christ-Like Response)

Hello Friends!  Thank you for visiting our website. As the title of this post suggests, I’d like to share with you my best guess on how Jesus would have us respond to the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. “Toward” might be the key word in this piece because I do not wish to suggest I am offering the final word on “what Jesus would do” in the midst of this outbreak. There are though, plenty of biblical principles to guide us in times of crisis that are sure and steady words in times of trial. Because much digital ink has already been spilled on this topic, little I say here is meant to be new or novel, but I do hope to reinforce and remind you of comforting, encouraging or convicting truths that will keep us all steady during this time. And, I will share a bit of how Christians throughout history have responded in times of pandemic outbreak. I assure you, as I write, I have you, the reader of this blog and friend of CrossWay, in my prayers. I know this to be a frightening time for many. God is with you. So, with that said, read the following prayerfully and may God use these words to give you a Christ-like perspective and response to the virus.

 

– First, being ruled by a spirit of fear is not how Jesus would have us live (Matt.6:25ff; 2 Tim. 1:7; Phil.4:6-7; I Pet.5:7). The beauty and blessing of actually believing (living out) these truths though, are astounding.  Jesus, Peter, and Paul, all tell us not to worry, but to trust.  That’s the gist of it, right? I mean, this is not the first time you and I have had to trust God in the midst of trials Each of you reading this, have probably done what I am doing now. That is, you have sat down with friend and said in effect, “friend, let me tell you how God walked with me during a very dark and uncertain time in my life. He was and is faithful. Please, don’t let your life be diminished by a spirit of fear. Trust our good Father.”  Though this kind of word, I believe, would be spoken to us by Jesus, Paul, and Peter, each of them though, are helpfully realistic. I mean, at the very least, why would each of them have to urge us not to worry but to trust our good Father? The answer is simple: because each of us have a tendency to worry and not to trust! Right?  I think Paul’s reminder that we have not been given a spirit of fear is so helpful. I take this to mean that, while we might experience fear or be tempted to fear, we do not have to be ruled by fear, that is, an overriding spirit/attitude of fear should not mark the follower of Jesus. Experiencing fear/anxiety is part of what it means to be human. Jesus Himself had anxiety as He approached the cross (Mark 14:32ff), but He did not let His fear rule Him. So, what does a Christ-like response to this uncertainty look like?  It looks like staying the course of loving sacrificial obedience to our Father (Mark 14:3).  Jesus, even though He was afraid, gave Himself in loving sacrificial obedience upon the cross. We too are called to “take up our cross” (Matt.16:24). This leads to my next thought.

 

Second, a Christ-like response would have us lean more toward “dying” than “living”.  What in the world do I mean by that?! I do not mean to be insensitive, nor am I advocating in any way, a reckless disregard for current government restrictions or self-care. Yet. Yet . . . May I suggest we truly to not need much encouragement to nurture this instinct for self-preservation. Yet, we need much grace, to lay down our lives for others. I don’t “die” to self naturally. I don’t give myself away to others at great personal cost, unless I am following the Spirit of Christ. Part of this is understandable and even a gift from God. What I mean by that is, God has given each of us a desire to live. We all, unless we are profoundly discouraged, want to wake up the next day and live our lives. And, we naturally will avoid the things we think might diminish the quality or “quantity” (years) of our lives. Yet, again, as followers of Jesus, we have a new equation to consider, of what truly is contributes to our life, and, what “life” now for us actually entails. I am reminded of Galatians 2:20. Paul says there, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Let me suggest a few valid and reasonable applications of this verse toward what it might look like to live toward a Christ-like response to the Corona virus. “I” (the pre-Jesus “I”) have died with Jesus. “I” no longer live. My life now, is Jesus Christ in me. So, the new “I” lives by trusting Jesus. He gave Himself for me and “I” (the trusting Jesus “I”!) am most fully alive by giving myself to Him, following His pattern of self-sacrifice.   Elsewhere, Jesus Himself said it this way, “Whoever finds his lie will lose it, and whoever loses his life form my sake will find it” and then, “”For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matt. 10:19; 16:25).  At the end of this post, I include a bit of writing I found at the Gospel Coalition website. I highly recommend this website as a rich resource of many articles that can help you think biblically and Christo-centrically about the Corona virus. Anyway, one of the articles I found there outlined the response of the early church to pandemics. Unlike the culture at large which was decidedly leaned toward self-preservation, the Christian’s light in those dark times shone because they cared for the sick at the expense of their “own” lives. They could only do this because they knew they were not their own, they were bought at a price (I Cor. 6:19-20). Therefore, they glorified God in their bodies, by sometimes, literally sacrificing their own health to care for others. Now, I can hear some of your mental gears churning. Before you judge too quickly what I might be saying here, please reserve judgement until at least the end of this article! It’s true, that at that time, there were no hospitals, and, believers in Jesus at that time didn’t fully understand how viruses were transmitted, still, the principle of dying to self remains true. A Christ-like response would have us lean more toward “dying” than “living” or self-preservation. May I ask you to ask yourself, “As I ponder the Corona virus and the culture at large with their response, in contrast, what would my dying to self look like, as I seek to follow the Spirit of Jesus?” Maybe it would look like finally reaching out to that elderly neighbor who has no family close by, just to check to see how they are doing. Maybe it means watching a young mom’s kids who are home from school, yet she still has to go to work. Perhaps it will look like buying some groceries for your needy neighbor.

Third, remember your true treasure, and, that this might not perhaps pass. The Corona virus is sapping us economically. The Dow Jones plunges. I can go on. Yet, our true treasure cannot be touched. Jesus would have us remember that (Please read Matthew 6:19-21). In no way do I want to minimize the anxiety this might stir up (see my point #1!), yet a blessing this virus might be bringing, is, we are reminded that this virus can’t touch our true heart’s treasure which is Jesus and His kingdom we are told to seek first above all these other things (Matt.6:33).

Hallelujah! And then, may I suggest to each one of us, that this could indeed be the end of all things. I know, some of you are saying, “he’s lost it, I didn’t know Pastor Manuel was such a doomsday type of guy.” Now, don’t misunderstand. I personally don’t think this is the end of all things, an immediate precursor to the tribulation, yet, for some particular generation, circumstances like these will indeed be part of the latter end times. How do we know for sure, is all I am trying to say, that we are not that generation? It would be irresponsible and unbiblical, frankly, to not ask these questions. Someone near and dear to my family asked us, “do you think this is the “end of the days?” I will not take the space here to get particular on how the Scripture uses this term. (Technically, ever since Jesus’ ascension, we are in the “last days”). Things like panic, fear, shortages, disease, government over-reach, etc., all of which will be part of the beginning of the end. Again, I am not at all a doomsday guy, but I DO want you to know, as cliché as it sounds, “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”. Are you resting in your true treasure? Is Jesus and His kingdom the Pearl of Great Price for you, that you are willing to give up everything to possess (Matthew 13:44-46)? If so, no virus on this earth will ever be able to take that away from you.  No, I don’t want to get sick. I don’t wish anyone to be get this virus. Yet even if we do fall ill, we are in the hands of our great, glorious and good Physician, King Jesus. He will always be with us, even to the End of the Age.

I could say MUCH more (!), but as I mentioned above, I will close with some thoughts from an article I read on the Gospel Coalition’s website.  Just yesterday, in a March 16  article, Pastor Glen Scrivener posted an article “Responding to Pandemics: 4 Lessons from Church History”.  I found it to be very helpful. I encourage you to go to the website, thegospelcoalition.org and read the entire article. There you will also find sound biblical reflections and direction upon how to respond to the Corona Virus. After a brief survey on how believers throughout church history responded to pandemics, Scrivener then asks, “What about Today?” He says:

            There are many factors that set our age apart from others. Before modern hospitals there was no specialized, professional health care. What’s more, previous generations ministered to the sick with little knowledge of how their diseases were transmitted. Carers can be carriers, even when asymptomatic. In such scenarios, self-isolation can be the most loving thing to do, rather than infecting the ones we’re seeking to love. While the outworking of love may look different in different ages, love must still be the aim- a love directed by the Holy Spirit, not our self-centered flesh.  So may we:  Point to the sinking sand of the world – the weakness of our flesh, the uncertainty of the markets, the mortality of us all. Preach and prize Christ the Rock – knowing that he alone can, and he alone will, weather the storms. Love our neighbors – moving, in Christ, toward those in need.  And may God be pleased to work again through this trial to glorify Christ’s name and extend his kingdom.”

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