A Christian Response to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the US and the world in ways many of us have never experienced. As a Christian during this time of stress, isolation, shortages, and loss of income, please meditate on the following posts. Feel free to leave a comment.
The end of the shutdown is in sight and we’re expecting to return to normal soon. As odd as this may sound, I hope we won’t be “normal” like we were before the pandemic.
Major events and disruptions in life typically change our values, priorities, and even our standards for behavior. I have hope – a confident expectation of good – that this difficult experience has caused us to reevaluate our relationship with our loving Father. I have hope that we’ll recommit ourselves to becoming more like him, so we’ll better represent him in our fallen world and be more effective in his kingdom. I have hope that we’ll restore our love for him, and love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. I have hope that we’ll resume or begin spiritual best practices that develop us and prepare us for whatever the future holds.
God can use everything in our lives – the good and bad, the beautiful and ugly, the helpful and harmful – for our benefit. He can do that, but he won’t violate our will by forcing those results on us. We must choose to cooperate with him by consciously conforming our thoughts to his. Let’s choose to embrace what the Bible says and reject incompatible thoughts and attitudes. Doing so allows God to do his part.
Let’s create a new normal. Let’s develop hope – a confident expectation of good – that recommitting ourselves to our Father and older brother Jesus will produce results greater than we could ever imagine. The choice is ours. The results are his.
Everyone’s looking for hand sanitizer, but would you appreciate something that would sanitize your mind after all the COVID and political news? You already have it, but probably haven’t thought about it.
In just a few minutes each day, you can realign your thinking, put the world’s problems into perspective, and become genuinely hopeful; all without leaving the comfort of home. What can do that so quickly? The Bible. It also reveals God’s nature, his plan for humanity and specifically for you. I’ve read the Bible daily for years, and I consider that time the most important of my day.
One of our biggest problems is our biblical illiteracy. Most of us simply don’t know what the Bible says because we don’t read it, which also means it can’t “sanitize” us as needed. Let’s assume we all attend church and pay attention during the sermon. It’s been proven repeatedly in clinical tests that listening to someone talk is the least effective way to learn. The more engaged we are, the more we learn and retain. So, is it really wise to rely on your ability to pay attention to a sermon for your spiritual development? I don’t think so, either.
So, here’s what I calculated today. The Gospel of Matthew from the NIV New Testament contains 28 chapters, 1,071 verses, and 22,838 words (excluding headings and verse numbers); that’s 815 words per chapter. Most adults read 200 – 250 wpm (words per minute) and could read an average chapter in Matthew in 4.1 minutes (at 200 wpm). Let’s assume all other New Testament chapters have about the same number of words and allow 4 – 5 minutes per chapter, allowing for distractions or time to contemplate.
Isn’t your spiritual development important enough to commit 4 – 5 minutes each day to read one Bible chapter? I hope you think so. We now have time to develop an important daily practice that literally will affect us the rest of our lives. And eternity.
If you don’t currently have a Bible reading plan, I suggest you begin with the New Testament. Here’s a guide that might be helpful: New Testament Reading Guide.
Or, if you want to read the entire Bible in a year and are willing to read longer, try this: Bible Reading Guide.
Note: If you’re concerned about my using the NIV Bible, please see my article, NIV 2011 Bible: Accurate or Misguided?
Have you noticed the stress in our culture is increasing? Not just in grocery stores, where people are competing for and even fighting over scarce items, but in political “discussions” and everywhere else. It’s even affecting our marriages and family relationships.
God showed me a few years ago a divisive spirit is fragmenting cultures around the world. We see divisions between people groups and political parties, for example, and it seems these differences are irreconcilable and worsening. In the past we often could tolerate differences and live peaceably with those who disagree with us, but apparently that’s no longer the case.
Now there’s another force that’s making even basic communication nearly impossible. It’s not just intolerance of other perspectives, but open hostility toward those who have them. I watched a video today that identified that as acrimony – a sharp, bitter hostility – and I believe that’s an accurate description.
I’m convinced this divisiveness and acrimony literally are spiritual forces, if not actual spiritual beings. Therefore, it’s appropriate for us to use our spiritual authority to combat divisiveness and acrimony in the spiritual realm; in fact, it’s imperative we do so. Consider the following.
Step one. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Col. 3:15). The word translated “rule” means to act as an umpire, and we let God’s peace rule by choosing not to be angry or afraid. Peace is a fruit of godly character (Gal. 5:22). We can be at peace even when people shout obscenities in our face and make irrational accusations against us.
Step two. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Jesus, Matt.5:44). “Love your enemies, do good to them” (Jesus, Luke 6:35). Who’s our enemy? In this context, those who intend to silence us or otherwise harm us in any way. One way to love those who are hostile toward us is to treat them with respect. We only overcome evil with good, not more evil (Rom. 12:21).
Step three. Recognize that our struggle is against spiritual rulers, authorities, powers, and forces of evil (Eph. 6:12). After preparing yourself spiritually and psychologically, stand your ground by refusing to surrender to the assault (v. 13). You might do this by replying kindly to the person, by simply walking away, or doing something else that properly represents God’s nature.
Step four. Use your spiritual authority to address the spiritual being directly, but not to the person unless God clearly directs you to do so. You might remind the spirit that Jesus defeated Satan on the cross, so in Jesus’ name command the spirit to be silent and leave. Pay attention to anything else God tells you to say at the moment and speak it with confidence that he is greater than anything Satan has in his arsenal. It’s not about you; you’re simply God’s representative in that situation, so say what he tells you.
Learn how to address these spiritual assaults now and you’ll be better prepared to handle whatever happens in the future.
What’s your focus, now that your life’s been disrupted? What preoccupies your thoughts? Keeping up with the latest news about the virus? Wondering when stores will restock supplies you need or want? Worried about loss of income? Binge-watching TV to distract yourself?
Wait a minute!
As Christians, we’re not to live any longer like unbelievers, thinking futile (empty, useless) thoughts (Eph. 4:17). We shouldn’t worry about what we’ll eat or drink or wear or anything else we need, like unbelievers do (Matt. 6:31-32). Don’t you know that worry and stress compromise your immune system? More importantly, they get your mind off God.
Instead of focusing on the problems, we can choose to be thankful for what God is doing for us, how he’s protecting and blessing us, and how he uses everything we experience to make us more like Jesus. Let’s agree to control our thoughts and focus on who God is. Let’s agree to pray for each other and pronounce God’s blessings and promises over each other. Let’s agree to build ourselves up spiritually, instead of tearing ourselves down emotionally.
We can do this! We can not only survive, we can thrive! God’s given us everything we need to do so; we simply need to choose.
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matt.28:6).
This weekend we celebrate the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, then from the earth to be with his Father and ours. This historic fact gives us hope, a confident expectation of good.
Yes, we’re on “lock-down” for COVID-19 now and times are hard, but someday we also will rise from this planet to be with him forever. Come, Lord Jesus.
In a previous post (4/3/20), we examined a covenant blessing every believer in Jesus has available: sozo, which includes healing, safety or deliverance from afflictions such as deadly illnesses. God has already given us everything we need for a godly life (2 Pet. 1:3), which includes good health and authority to do his work. He’s done his part, now it’s up to us to do our part, including using our spiritual authority to do the work he gave us.
Is it God’s will for us to be healthy? Definitely, because Jesus came to do the Father’s work (John 10:37), which includes healing the sick. Jesus gave his disciples authority to heal every disease and sickness (Matt. 10:1), and said whoever believes in him will do the works he did; even greater ones (John 14:12). Why? Because God authorizes us to do his kingdom work, including meeting people’s needs as expressions of his love and grace.
Jesus defeated Satan at the cross, so now it’s up to us use our authority to enforce that victory, and we have an excellent opportunity to do that. We’re to use our spiritual authority to serve – not dominate or control – those within our realms of influence; including ourselves and families. One way to do that is to speak a blessing of health over them if they aren’t yet infected or a blessing of healing if they already are. Since this is a spiritual act, we can do this even if we’re not with them, but doing it in their presence helps build their faith.
Again, God has already provided everything we need; Jesus defeated the enemy, whose goal is to steal, kill and destroy; and it’s up to us to use the authority God gave us to enforce Jesus’ victory. So I urge you to do the following.
- Recognize your status as a child of God (1 John 3:1-2).
- Decide to use the authority he gave you to heal every disease and illness (Matt. 10:1).
- Use that authority to declare that by Jesus’ wounds we have been healed (1 Pet. 2:24).
- Persevere as needed until you see what God has promised (Heb. 10:36).
This pandemic is an excellent opportunity to develop new spiritual skills and become more effective in Father’s kingdom. Don’t waste the opportunity.
As I was beginning to write today’s post about our response to COVID-19, I received an email from Mario Murillo. I subscribed to his emails more than a year ago and respect his ministry and writings. His email for today is especially important and relevant, so I gladly refer you to his article: 5 Things You Must Do During the Shutdown.
Here’s an excerpt:
Everything in me tells me these are the most important days you will know in our lifetime. Waste them, and it will be the greatest regret of your life.
Turn your days at home into the most important breakthrough ever. Turn feelings of helplessness into fuel for an amazing outcome. These are days to let God do a shocking new work inside you.
This pandemic is an excellent opportunity to improve our relationship with God and learn more about that relationship’s benefits or blessings. While all these blessings are relevant to everyday life, one is especially relevant to the pandemic and it’s represented in the New Testament by the Greek word sozo (pronounced sōd-zō).
The word has a range of meanings, all related to saving us from harm (spiritual, psychological or physical), by preventing or delivering us from it. We see the word in a variety of grammatical forms applied to familiar New Testament themes, including the following:
- Salvation, deliverance or rescue from sin and consequential judgment, or from evil.
- Examples: spiritual salvation (Acts 4:12); deliverance from evil attacks (2 Tim. 4:18).
- Healing, safety or deliverance from afflictions.
- Examples: healed of deadly illness (Mark 5:23); healed of blindness (Mark 10:52); healed of chronic bleeding (Matt. 9:21–22); cured of demon possession (Luke 8:36); healed of lameness (Acts 4:9).
- Freedom, deliverance or rescue from harm or evil, and in some cases from imprisonment.
- Examples: saved from drowning (Matt. 8:25); saved from harm (Matt. 16:25); saved from execution (Matt. 27:40); Israel delivered out of Egypt (Jude 5); survived danger (Matt. 24:22); rescued from a storm (Acts 27:20).
These are just a few examples of the same blessing from our relationship with God. Here’s the main point: Because we have accepted God’s offer of salvation by faith, which delivered us from judgment for our sin, we can and should by faith also accept healing and protection from whatever else threatens us.
Salvation, healing, freedom, safety and deliverance are all expressions of the same blessing, sozo. Let’s ask for and receive this blessing in faith, confidently expecting deliverance and protection from this worldwide pandemic.
For many of us, shelter-in-place and stay-at-home directives have brought our lives to screeching stops. If you’re getting restless or bored, I suggest this is an excellent opportunity to develop some spiritual best-practices.
Why not set a daily appointment, a specific time to spend with God? You might start with just a few minutes to read a Bible chapter, plus 15 minutes to pray and focus your mind on God. Be alert to whatever he might tell you and be ready to write down what he says. Here’s a tougher one: simply sit quietly focused on him.
As you become accustomed to this, gradually extend your appointment time. With practice, you likely will begin looking forward to these holy appointments; times set aside to be with the Father who loves you more than you can imagine. Wouldn’t you want to spend time with someone who loves you that much? Why not make it a priority? Now you have the time.
When our lives are turned upside-down by a national crisis, it’s natural to focus on our needs and those of our family. But notice the priority the Apostle Paul makes in this passage for believers who were living in difficult conditions: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:1–2, NIV).
The relevant point for us is to make prayer for our government and corporate leaders a priority. Whether we agree with their ideology, behavior, decisions or politics, we can pray for them to receive wise counsel during this critical time, when their decisions directly affect people’s lives and well-being. So let’s set political rivalries aside as unimportant compared to God’s will. We can have hope, a confident expectation of good, in these difficult times. And we can facilitate that good by acting for, not against, all those in authority with our petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving before God.
When we understand that God works all events and circumstances together so they have a compounded benefit for us, we can be thankful in everything (Rom. 8:28; 1 Thess. 5:18). Being thankful in a circumstance doesn’t require us to be thankful for it, but thankful for God’s care and blessings while it lasts.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:2-5, NIV).
Joy is gladness or delight based on our relationship with God. It’s not naivety; it’s not happiness based on circumstances. We can consider this period with joy because we know that having our faith tested helps us develop perseverance, which makes us mature and complete like Jesus. We can ask God for wisdom about our circumstances, confident he’ll give it to us generously. So don’t be afraid, because he gives us what we need to thrive in every situation.
God chose to have us live in this period so we will see, experience and participate in the most powerful spiritual events in human history. Our greatest days are still ahead.