In this crisis, the Church must love wisely – The Emily Angle
Early pagans called Christianity a “religion for the sick.” Since Christians have a strength the world does not give and a heavenly outlook on life, we should set the example in our approach to suffering and being on the frontlines of a crisis.
Christians should not run from sickness. Instead, we should run to the sick, the hurting and the needy. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Christians must become the “city on a hill” and “lamp on a stand” we are called to be.
Last week, Samaritan’s Purse deployed a unit of medical professionals to join the worldwide fight against the pandemic, setting up a field hospital in New York City’s Central Park, a COVID-19 hot spot, to lighten the burden of the city’s overwhelmed hospitals. The death toll soars and the virus is rampant in New York City, but the health care professionals (mostly volunteers), flew into the shadow of death, all “in Jesus’ name.”
Many of Jesus’ miracles focused on healing the sick. When the world ran from the perishing, Jesus ran toward them, because it is in sickness and pain that God is often most glorified.
This is not to say we should go out and foolishly act as if we are immune to being touched by sickness. It means quite the opposite.
When the bubonic plague swept through Europe, Martin Luther chose to stay in Wittenberg, Germany, instead of fleeing from the deadly disease. In his letter to Rev. Johann Hess, Luther discussed whether or not Christians should flee from the plague.
Luther advocated that Christians take practical steps to stop the spread. He encouraged Christians to pray but also to wash their hands and take their medicine. Though Luther did not advise that every Christian should have stayed in Wittenberg, which was unwise, he emphasized the importance of the presence of Christ followers in times of need.
Luther said in his letter, “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others.”
Loving our neighbor does not require recklessness. Life does not allow us to visit hospitals or shut-ins right now, so Christians should use this time to be creative in how we contribute to the Kingdom. Though we each bring something different to the table, we all have something to give.
There are so many ways to serve within the realms of social distancing. Give a call to a lonely widow, volunteer to buy groceries for an elderly couple, deliver cookies to your neighbors, use your words to spread peace, do your part to help others stay safe.
All of us are being affected by the pain of COVID-19. Some have suffered from the sickness itself or heartache from the loss of loved ones, while others are inconvenienced by the limits it imposes on our daily routine..
Though some are more impacted than others, none of us are immune to the way the pandemic has rocked the world. In the “The Problem of Pain,” C.S. Lewis said pain often gets our attention in ways nothing else can.
Lewis said, “… Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. … (Pain) removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of the rebel soul.”
Perhaps this pain will be used as God’s “megaphone” to wake the sleeping and rouse the church to be what he has called it to be.
The Gospel Coalition called the coronavirus pandemic “a God-ordained opportunity for many Christians to display the love of Christ in service to their neighbors, and to live out the fearlessness of death that Christ has won for all his children.”
In the next few months, or however long we fight this battle, let us be Christians in both word and deed as we continue to serve others and Christ, even from our own homes.
Churches will not be able to congregate traditionally for an indefinite period of time due to the coronavirus, but the Church should serve others well, no matter how unconventional our approach will be. Jesus said the world would know we are his disciples by how we love one another (John 13:35).
Promote calm over chaos and compassion over confusion, but, most importantly, let the Church be present during this worldwide pandemic. Times like these allow us to put the love of Jesus on display in how we approach heartache and rise to meet others’ needs.
Emily Wood is the editor-in-chief of the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyRWood17