There have not been many times in my lifetime when things have been changing so quickly. Maybe around 9/11. Maybe when the Iron Curtain fell apart. But this week the spreading realisation of the seriousness of the Coronavirus situation has been striking.
One day I am seeing Christians on facebook moan about college sports being suspended due to “a silly virus” and the next day they are commenting about the seriousness of the situation. (Maybe some people should go back and delete some comments that could soon look very uncaring?)
What we are facing is new to many of us. Uncertainty from one day to the next; travel being complex and restricted; health being under threat; questions over personal income; inability to gather freely for church; potentially inadequate access to healthcare; neighbours living without confidence; people worried about being able to get basic supplies and so on.
This may be new to most of us, but it is not new for most people, in most of the world, for most of history.
And what does this mean? It means a unique opportunity to shine like stars in a dark time. The Roman Empire was all this and more, but the gospel spread like wildfire. Living under communism with all its restrictions, such as in 20th century China, had many of these features, and unprecedented church growth. Whether we go back centuries or think more recently, difficult times make for wonderful opportunity for Jesus followers to spill the love of God into a needy and disrupted world.
So what will this season look like for you and me? Will we mourn the loss of sports, indulge in comfort binge watching of Netflix, complain about all the inconveniences to our usually so comfortable and indulged lives, pour energy into hoarding random grocery items?
Of course it will be a genuinely difficult season for many of us. Loss of income will hit many. Loss of loved ones will hit some. But what if we make this unique season an opportunity to proactively love God, love one another and love our neighbours?
Love God – Time in the Bible and prayer can become so routine when life is normal. Why not let this time stir a greater appetite for time with our God? Let’s get to know Him more, trust Him more, love Him more.
Love One Another – We may not be able to meet on a Sunday and in home groups, but church is still church even without the meetings. In fact, it is a great opportunity to think through how we can love one another, shepherd one another, support one another, look out for one another, etc. The way the church loves is supposed to be noticeable to a world full of people living “me-first.” This is an opportunity for us to really look different.
Love Our Neighbours – The government will do what it can, probably. Community spirit may kick in and be helpful. But the greatest force for on-the-ground love and selfless care should be the followers of Jesus. A confused, disrupted and increasingly hurting community is what we are here for – what can we do to be ready? What steps can we take to be bold? Wash your hands, wash their feet, and tell them the good news about Jesus.
This situation is new to us, but it is not new to God’s people. Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and embrace this taste of a more normal life in this broken and hurting world.