Who Are You Telling About Jesus During the Wuhan Virus Crisis?

A message of peace.
A message of love.
A message of hope.

Last week, I asked if you were “going to church” during this drawn-out ordeal.
Canceled travel plans, kid at home, many lost jobs, isolation from almost everyone, meetings zoomed instead of in person, friends who die alone, friends unable to pay respects because of the constraints.

But as David and Miriam of Ohio mentioned in a Zoom meeting of Simple Church Alliance yesterday (http://simplechurchalliance.faclex.com/), this could be an amazing opportunity for the Church to show the world the peace, love and hope of Jesus.

It feels like the world is spiraling out of control.  Governments seem powerless to do anything besides add band-aids of financial assistance as though that will solve the problem.  But the virus continues to consume our attention, our neighbors’ lives, and run rampant over the usual routines.  When will it end?  Where is the hope?  How can we feel at peace?  Does anyone love me in this time of isolation?

As Christ-followers we have the unique opportunity to offer peace in the middle of the storm.  Martin Luther encouraged magistrates and government officials to stand fast in the plague that ravaged Europe in 1527.  In a letter to the Wittenburg Christians, “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague,”  he maintained that those in service to others “must remain steadfast before the peril of death.”  Not only government and health care workers but anyone who was able to serve the general good.

However, he did not suggest we expose ourselves recklessly to disease and in the final analysis left the matter up to conscience: “devout Christians [must] to come to their own decision and conclusion” whether to flee or to stay during plagues, believing one must follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  I suspect he intended that if one did not know Father well enough to know the “Spirit of Truth” (John 16:13) he may as well leave.  If one did know Him, He would guide, not Martin Luther or government.  The actions of assistance to the sick should come from grace, not obligation.  Such is the peace Father offers us in the eye of the storm.

The Eye Of The Storm by Ryan Stevenson

 

 

Along with this peace and giving motivation to it is the love of Jesus.  The “disciple who Jesus loved” told us near the end of his life, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:18-19)  To express the love we have received from a Savior who gave His life for each of us should be one of our primary goals, not just in the face of a health crisis, but all the time.

Who, upon receiving a medical breakthrough for himself would not share it with others in need?  Who, upon finding he could prevent his house from burning down would not show others how to do that?  Who, upon receiving a great gift, unrequested, unsought, and undeserved would hoard it all to oneself?  See the lepers of of 2 Kings 7 for an illustration of how one should respond.  When you know a wonderful secret, you do not want to keep it secret!  You cannot wait for the opportunity to share it with those who might benefit.

And what greater “secret” could we who follow Jesus possess than the way to overcome “the last enemy”? (1 Corinthians 15:26)  It is a blessing that the Wuhan Virus does not destroy young lives as easily as it attacks us older folks.  For a short time, a morbid attempt at humor ran on twitter: #boomerremover.  Children and young adults should be taught that they have received an unexpected gift.  Another virus could just as easily reverse this effect, killing the young and sparing the old.

But the feeling of invincibility that comes from being young is an illusion.  No one here gets out alive. (December 6, 2015)  We will all face the Specter someday, hopefully for the young, many years away.  But that day will come.

Now, while it is on everyone’s mind, we Christ-followers have the best reason for “the peace that passes understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)  We can give hope so much more than for just a few short years, whether they are one or 100.  We can present a Hope that is more than just a childish wish that things were different: that mom and dad did not get divorced; that my grades were better; that I could get that job; that I will get a check from the government handout.  We can offer LIFE!  Eternal life from the Creator; eternal life in the Son of the Creator!  A Hope that is certain, not just a wish; an anticipation of what we know will happen.

So do not force conversations but be sensitive to that small voice inside when the opportunity arises to “make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15)  Give the distressed peace.  Give the lonely love.  Give the hopeless hope.

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