Panic, Grace and Corona
As Corona spreads, these four truths are beautiful to cling to:
God is good
God is in control
God knows what He is doing
God cares for you
These are truths that you, dear Christian, know about your Father and Saviour as you read scripture. These are not truths that the world knows. While the world panics as this virus spreads and kills - we have an opportunity. The way we respond to all of this will speak volumes into the world around us.
1. Preach Hope before Mockery …held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death…” Hebrews 2v15
Of course people are panicking. Hebrews 2v15 tells us that we were, and that humanity is, in slavery to the fear of death. We have been set free from that fear. Christ shared in our flesh so that He would die for us and destroy the one who holds the power of death (v14). We are rescued from this fear, not through our own efforts, but through Christ’s grace. We have been set free from the fear of death. The world hasn’t.
Death is the great enemy of humanity. Because of our hope in Christ we can cry out “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O grave, is your sting?” (1Cor 15v55). For many death still has its sting and power. Christ has rescued us from this fear so much so that Paul could actually declare that death was gain (Phil 1v21). For many, death is the loss of everything they hold dear.
Let us not belittle or mock their panic, understand that it is a symptom of their slavery - the slavery that once was ours.
While the world panics, instead of mocking, explain why you aren’t. Explain the beautiful confidence you have in Christ and share with them how it can be theirs too.
2. Preach Grace before Judgment
“…we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another…” Titus 3v3
Of course people are making selfish decisions. So people have been bulk buying and leaving shelves empty for those coming after them. Scripture tells us that we are all naturally selfish. The moment we fell in the garden was the moment humanity became inherently selfish. We were born selfish, we live selfish and we die selfish. This is a symptom of the deep heart problem of sin. You were this person too, and if you’re honest, there are many areas where selfishness still reigns in your heart. You didn’t inherit eternal life because you bought less toilet roll than the next person. Eternal life was a free gift given to you by Jesus.
Law doesn't rescue, grace does. Telling a naturally selfish person to stop being selfish is as reasonable as demanding a cat quit behaving like a cat.
It is the gospel that has transformed and is transforming your life to become more and more like Christ. God is abundantly generous and you have been called, transformed and are continuously enabled to be like Him. This has made you, and is making you, less selfish than you used to be.
While people around you make selfish decisions, instead of judging, explain how Christ has set you free and can set them free from selfishness.
3. Preach to Yourself before Others
“…He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers…” 1 John 3v16
“…as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith…” Galatians 6v10
We don’t know where this is going to lead. God knows. If it does get worse, are we prepared to react the way Christ calls us to?
During the early spread of Christianity, various plagues hit the Roman Empire. Christians were known for their compassionate, courageous, sacrificial care both for each other and non-Christians. Emperors noticed. The world remarked “see how they love one another…how they are ready even to die for one another” (Tertullian Apology Ch39).
Spurgeon: "fear to die? Thank God, I do not. The cholera may come again next summer - pray it may not. But if it does, it matters not to me. I will toil and visit the sick by night and by day until I drop. And if it takes me, sudden death is sudden glory."
Luther: "...if my neighbour needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely."
Rather than pointing a finger at others, search your own heart; “would I be willing, if the time comes and the need arises, to respond with courage, compassion and sacrifice?”.
Some churches have decided to close their services. This is not a lack of faith, this is a desire to prevent spreading the virus and so harm others who are vulnerable. Luther: "I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence..."
Our church decided to stay open this weekend; we are not heroes of the faith, we are not boldly courageous, we just made the decision to stay open for now. The principles of Romans 14 can help us in this issue. Some will make a different choice than others, let everyone be fully persuaded in their own heart and mind. Why do you pass judgement on your brother? (Romans 14v4-5, 10-12).
Light in the Darkness
As the world looks around, may they see the body of Jesus Christ living with confidence and compassion in this dark hour for the nations. May they see the light of the gospel burning brightly through our words and actions. Let us be heralds of the message we have been entrusted with as stewards; the good news of grace in Christ.
Alan Campbell is from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He came to Christ as a young adult and trained for ministry at Bethesda Free Church, Sunderland. Alan ministered in Bethesda as the Associate Pastor until 2019 and now ministers at Union Chapel, Bath. From time to time he teaches at North Cotes (NTM/Ethnos 360) College and The Theological College of North Staffordshire. Alan travels across the UK, Ireland, Europe and the States speaking at universities and equipping churches and campus ministries to share the gospel in a post-modern context. He is passionate about helping the believer to root their identity more and more into the person and work of Jesus Christ. Alan is married to Victoria.