Following Jesus changes everything, including how we deal with stuff like this public health crisis, so here are 9 ways that followers of Jesus should be very different from those who don’t yet know Him.
- We live in faith not fear
The Lord does whatever
in the heavens and on the earth,
in the seas and all their depths.
Our God is the Sovereign King over every last thing. We can pray for protection and health knowing that He has power over every particle. As His loved people, we are not promised immunity to sickness in this world, but we are promised purpose in suffering, for His glory and for our good (Rom8v28). In whatever He does, we can trust His goodness completely.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Our loving Creator already knows what’s in store. He’s got it. He’s got you. Don’t panic.
2. We pray for and obey our governing authorities
Let everyone be subject to the governing
authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has
established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
We must respect and obey government advice even when it’s inconvenient or seems unnecessary. We must regularly pray for those making tough decisions and leading us through difficult times. (1 Tim2v2) We must be careful in what we say about those whom God has appointed to lead us.
Just as Florence Nightingale’s faith in Jesus helped fuel her drive for better hygiene in hospitals, so, out of our love for fellow human beings made in God’s image, we must take on government advice and be exemplary in standards of health and hygiene.
3. We move towards the hurting
Throughout history, followers of Jesus have been marked out as a people who move towards those that others are running away from. In the 3rd century, the Cyprian plague hit Rome, and the Christians cared for the sick at great personal cost. In the 4th century, a plague hit Caesarea and while others fled, the Christians stayed around to tend the dying and the starving.
And so it goes on.
Of course, we must be wise and take the advice of the authorities – but let us be quick and eager to help where we can. As our Prime Minister calls us to care for each other, as altruism is promoted – this is where the church of Christ must shine. Throughout the Old Testament and New, God’s people are specifically encouraged to look after the needy and vulnerable in society- reflecting the heart of God and seen in the life of Jesus.
4. We are generous with resources
“Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who
has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
While others panic-buy and grab stuff off emptying shelves, we can share what we have with those in need, trusting God to provide our daily bread, pasta, rice and loo roll.
‘I say the words so easily,
“I trust you for my every need”
But how still would my heart be,
If those words were reality?’
Lion of Judah, ‘Somebody New’
5. We hear God’s voice
Without needing to speculate about whether this is a specific judgement of God or a particular message from God, the Bible is pretty clear that the world is broken because of sin (Genesis 3); that bad stuff is to be expected (Matthew 24v3-8); that shocking events are a wake-up call to unbelievers (Luke 13v1-5), and that trials are an opportunity for believers to become more like Jesus (Hebrews 12v7).
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C.S. Lewis
It is probably unhelpful to insist on being specific about what God is saying through these events, but we can be sure God is certainly doing something. A wise response would be an eager ear as we dive afresh into God’s Word where we hear His voice the loudest.
6. We do not give up meeting together
Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a
habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day
Unless we are advised otherwise, we will continue to meet together at our normal times. Of course, there may be times where you feel it is necessary to stay away, for your own health or the health of others. You must feel able to do that and will not be judged for it! But let’s also remember that our spiritual health is at least as important as our physical health – and the church is God’s wonderful way of building us up as we await the return of our Lord Jesus. Don’t let fear stop you feeding.
7. We hold out the hope of the gospel
In a society gripped with fear, we have a message of peace. As people face up to mortality, we have a message of hope for eternity. We must make the most of every opportunity (Eph5v16), unashamed of Jesus who alone has conquered death.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who
asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
1 Peter 3v15
Let’s pray that this crisis prepares the ground for gospel seeds – and that this gospel would continue to bear fruit and grow across the world in the wake of the virus. (Col 1v6)
8. We mourn with hope
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be
uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve
like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose
again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have
fallen asleep in him.
1 Thessalonians 4v13-18
Jesus is king and so death has no sting (1 Cor 15v55). If the virus spreads as predicted, it seems likely that we will know of brothers and sisters who fall asleep. But we will confound the world by rejoicing in a life that lasts beyond death.
9. We groan with expectation
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in
the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only
so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the
Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to
sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
Loads of people will groan – but we groan differently! The gospel gives us hope of a broken world remade, knowing that the Jesus path means suffering now; glory later.
So don’t moan like the world – groan for the new world.