Fact One: The best expression of God for us is Jesus.
If you want to know what God thinks, how God works, how God responds to humankind look to Jesus. Jesus, fully God and fully man, shows us what God is like and what humans can be.
Fact two: We are living through a worldwide pandemic.
Fact three: There have been worldwide pandemics before.
The Spanish flu outbreak in 1918-1920, saw a fourth of the world population, 500 million people, infected and estimates from 17 million to 50 million people died.
Fact Four: The church has lived through such pandemics and plagues.
Historian Andy Wood wrote: that influenza killed Florida District Superintendent Homer Goodell, as reported in the Herald October 23, 1918, p.15. Kentucky District assembly was also postponed in accordance with statewide “quarantine.” Likewise, the Little Rock and Peniel assemblies were postponed per General Superintendent Goodwin. The following week the Herald of Holiness (the official publication of the Church of the Nazarene) editors reported that multiple employees at the Nazarene Publishing House were out sick, and that government mail service was “especially uncertain.” They urged correspondents to “keep patient and keep sweet.” (Information provided by Dr. Dean Blevins)
Given the facts above, how should the church respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic with its 24/7 news coverage, social distancing, unemployment, stay-at-home orders and on-line church services?
As always, follow Jesus.
Jesus was not a giver of disease, but a healer.
“Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.” (Luke 7:21). At no point does Jesus give disease. Jesus heals. Let’s keep pointing people to the Greater Healer.
Jesus was not a fear inducer, in fact just the opposite.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27). We are people of hope not fear. “Perfect love drives our fear” (See 1 John 4:18) is what John wrote in the first century. it still works in the 21st century. Our world desperately needs to see the perfect love of Christ in us.
Jesus used the circumstances of life for God’s glory.
Do you recall the story in John 9? As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed.” (John 9:1-3) After correcting the bad theology (that blindness was somehow the result of the sinfulness of the man’s parents’ or his own sin while in the womb), Jesus took this man’s terrible plight and healed him for the glory of God. Could God use this pandemic for his glory? God already is. God’s people have always met the hurting with the grace of Jesus (the unmerited love of Jesus) and the peace of Jesus (the unmistakable presence of Jesus). Let’s keep it up!
Maybe the best advice for dealing with a pandemic came from the Publish House during the Spanish Flu pandemic as it urged its patrons to “keep patient and keep sweet.”
P.S. Check out my daily Quarantined Quotes and Quips through the month of April.