Christians in a Time of Chaos (COVID-19)
During the first century, many Christians faced intense persecution, even death. It was during the height of this chaos that God gave a vision to John to share with the churches, and by extension, to us. This “Revelation” has for centuries reminded Christians that no matter how bad things get, God is still in control. He reigns forever from His throne, He has promised victory for the faithful through the blood of His Son, and He has given us assurance of this by the revelation of His Spirit.
As we think about the upheaval many are experiencing around the world due to the risk and reality of a global pandemic, let us take a moment to put all of this in context and maybe see the opportunity that such uncertainty provides for those of us who put their hope on the things that do not change (1 Pet. 3:15).
Coping with the Possibility of Change
Of course, it’s easy to say we hope in the unchanging and that we’ve built our life on spiritual foundations. Then everything changes. Maybe it’s a financial downturn, or much worse, an illness or a loss in the family. Maybe it’s a global pandemic that sends everything and everyone into chaos. Suddenly, all we can think about it how we’re going to make it the next few weeks until things return to normal.
Here’s the thing, though. We’re not given that promise. Things happen in this life, we emerge on the other side, and everything has changed. And what then? If our hope and foundation were on fragile things, we are left holding the broken pieces of our life, unable to put them back together. But if our hope and foundation is on the Rock, yes, we will still be broken, but we will be in the hands of the One who cares for us and gave His Son so that we could have new life.
(Mt. 6:19-21; 7:24-27)(1 Pet. 1:22-25; 5:6-7)(2 Cor. 5:14-17)
Having Grace in the Midst of Uncertainty
As reports and recommendations continue to be updated on a daily basis, it’s important to remember that most everyone is doing the same mental math with the same principles in mind. What choices are appropriate and responsible for my particular situation, that of my family, and that of my community? Yet for a multitude of reasons, we are coming to differing conclusions. Understanding the heightened tension naturally leads to strife, let’s make sure that we are slow to judge and separate into factions, especially as Christians. Instead, recognize that the person disagreeing with you is not trying to be your antagonist, they’re just stressed because their father is in multiple categories of elevated risk, or maybe they're worried how they’ll provide for their family if they are laid-off due to the economic downturn.
With this perspective in mind, let’s react to the uncertainty and disagreement with grace and not judgment. Find out how we can help. Take this opportunity to fulfill the law of Christ and love our neighbor as ourselves, despite their treatment of us (Gal. 6:2; James 2:8). “Give to him who asks of you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” (Mt. 5:39-42)
The Self-Focused Culture Exposed
Of all the images and stories, the most unsettling is that of store shelves emptied of basic and essential goods. This has led to long lines, frustration, and even some reports of violence. Hoarding is natural instinct many are turning to.
This should not be shocking to those who believe. It’s the dark side of a culture that has been trained to be self-focused and self-indulgent. While everything is stable, everyone is basically settled into what makes them happy. Introduce widespread instability, though, and it’s now every man for himself.
Unfortunately, we as Christians are not immune to self-indulgence. As we prepared for the days ahead, did we only consider our own family (Lk. 12:16-21), or did we also think about how we could help provide for others (1 Tim. 6:17-19)? Did we make plans to isolate ourselves and do our own thing for a couple of weeks (Prov. 18:1), or did we also plan how we could help and encourage others, even if we do have to stay at home (Gal. 6:7-10)? How much extra down time will we dedicate to ourselves and how much will we spend in study, prayer, and worship?
God Can Work Good Through All Things (Rom. 8:28)
Finally, let us end where we began - in the throne room of Heaven, in awe and fear of the majesty of God, in eternal amazement and thankfulness of the depth of His love for us and the gift of salvation through the blood of Christ (Rev. 4-5). No matter what happens here on this earth, His love for us never changes, nor does His promises for the faithful (Heb. 10:19-25). And Lord willing, our faithfulness and hope in the face of uncertainty and trial will be an example and an invitation to those currently lost in sin and confusion.