The world around us is quickly making changes to minimize the impact of COVID-19. Many of us are swept up in the chaos as we face this international crisis and changes to our daily lives. I don’t want to add to the noise, but I do think there’s a message Christians cannot afford to miss.
We need to understand this.
How Christians respond to the Coronavirus tells someone something about Jesus. Good or bad. We are his representatives, what we do and say matters.
Right now we have an opportunity to show God’s love to those around us. We are his representatives and we shouldn’t take this responsibility lightly.
If you are a follower of Jesus here are 6 ways Christians can respond to the Coronavirus that will represent Jesus well.
Take Precautions, But Don’t Fear
It would be foolish for Christians to not take any precautions. It concerns me to see some Christians totally disregard what health officials are saying. You might disagree and nothing might come of it. But you should still take the precautions that are health officials recommend seriously.
I would encourage you to look at what health officials are asking us to do. Take the precautions necessary to not only protect you but those around you that might be more vulnerable to COVID-19.
BUT. There’s a big but we need to acknowledge.
Christians should not be doing this out of fear. We live in a broken world where bad things happen. We all know that. Contrary to what many believe, following God doesn’t mean an absence of pain and suffering. What unfolds over the coming weeks might be very difficult and painful for you or someone you know.
But there’s no need to fear. While God doesn’t spare us of the storms of this life, he is with us through them all.
We can live in an absence of fear not because the storms we face aren’t big and scary, they are. We can live in an absence of fear because our God is bigger.
Even in sickness and death Christians have nothing to fear because we serve a God that has defeated death.
When you are tempted to fear turn toward God instead. Spend some time praying and reflecting on him.
Practice Sacrifice, Not Selfishness
Fear causes us to panic and panic causes us to make poor decisions. Oftentimes those poor decisions are based out of selfishness that brings harm to others.
As people are hoarding all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer they can get their hands on, Christians should be doing the opposite. We should be looking for ways we can serve and sacrifice for those around us, not hoarding supplies for ourselves.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy what you need, you should. But when you stockpile out of the fear of what if you are doing so to the detriment of others. Particularly those who are most vulnerable and susceptible to diseases like the Coronavirus.
If you are a Christian, you follow a God that gave up heaven to walk in our shoes. At great personal cost, he went to extreme lengths to show you his love. Even making the ultimate sacrifice on the cross so that you could be reunited with him. You are commanded to have the same attitude towards others.
Yes, it will cost you, that’s what it means to sacrifice. But the cost to you pails in comparison to the cost that Jesus paid for you.
So, loosen your grip on that toilet paper and look for ways you can sacrifice for those around you. You have an incredible opportunity to show God’s love in a very difficult and scary time. It’s in the dark that God’s light can shine the brightest. But that only happens when his followers practice sacrifice.
Seek Out Those In Need
Not only should Christians practice sacrifice they should go out of their way to do so. In the midst of this epidemic Christians should be seeking out those who are in need.
Listen, I get it. My first reaction is to look out for myself and my family. But we must push past that tendency.
What we do as Christians tells others something (good or bad) about Jesus. We are his representatives. What do you think it tells the world about Jesus when we stockpile for ourselves and ignore those in need around us?
Carey Nieuwhof recently said: The early church wasn’t known for stockpiling ample food and supplies for themselves and spreading fear on social media. I think that’s a good challenge for us to consider.
In the coming weeks and months, there are going to be people that will have great needs that will be unmet. We have an incredible opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus and meet those needs.
Yes, it will cost us. Yes, it could put us in danger. But aren’t you thankful we have a God that pursued us at great cost and danger to himself? May we do the same for those around us.
Here’s two questions to help figure out how you can serve those around you.
- Who’s around me?
- What do they need that I can provide?
Let’s go out of our way to serve and love those in need. Not just doing this epidemic, but every day of our lives.
Don’t Belittle Those That Are Reacting Differently
Nothing makes me more frustrated, or sad, then when I see a Christian belittle or bash someone on social media. It happens all the time. And it’s only gotten worse the past for days.
Let me be frank. That’s not what Jesus would do and you are representing him poorly.
Maybe you think people are overreacting. Or maybe you are upset people aren’t preparing. I don’t know. But it needs to stop. Not only is it an ineffective way to communicate your message, you are doing damage to the image of Jesus. Knock it off.
As a follower of Jesus, there’s something bigger going on. Your actions and words represent him. And last I checked he didn’t belittle the people that believed differently. Love won people over, not a decisive argument on social media.
Before you post or say something think about how God would respond to that person.
Keep Pursuing Community (even if it looks different)
One of my biggest fears is that this epidemic will cause us to withdraw into deeper isolation. We need community. We need each other. This isn’t just a Christian issue (although I’d argue you cannot follow Jesus alone) this is a human issue. We were designed to live with people around us.
Chad Ragsdale a professor at Ozark Christian College sums this up well: Some cancellations are sad but necessary. Some cancellations are clearly overreactions. I can’t sort all that out with the limited knowledge I have. I’ll simply say this. There are secondary, non-economic and non-health related effects to mass cancellations. Take away church. Take away sports and entertainment. Take away schools. Take away colleagues and workplaces. Take away travel. Take away friends gathering with friends. Isolate people in front of their screens with only their anxieties to keep them company, and do this for any extended period of time. I’m not sure if we’ve really calculated the emotional and social cost of such an experiment.
We might find ourselves more and more isolated in the coming weeks and months. It might be necessary for our health and the health of the most vulnerable to do so. If it comes to that we should follow what health officials ask of us. But we shouldn’t abandon community.
Community might have to look different. For a time it might have to be done via technology and through other less personal avenues. However, we must not abandon community. The consequences of even a few weeks alone could be devastating for many.
Whatever happens next reach out to those around you. Ask them how they are doing. Pray for them. Encourage and show compassion to those who are sick and struggling. We need each other, especially in times such as this.
Be The Example Of What To Do
Carey Nieuwhof wrote a recent blog post direct at Christian Leaders and how they should respond to the Coronavirus. (If you are a leader you need to go read this: Crisis Leadership, Christian Leadership and the Coronavirus Epidemic) One of the points he made in the article is that we should Practice Leadership, Not Reactionship. While that’s directed at leaders, I think there’s something there for all of us.
Christians should be the example of what to do in difficult times. We should be an example that shows those around us hope, compassion, love, empathy, and in some cases lament. We shouldn’t just react, rather we should set the tone for what a loving response should be.
I think we are at a crossroads right now. So far, most Christians have just been reacting to what’s going on. But now it’s time to gather our thoughts and start leading. It’s time we look for ways to care for those in our community. To show love and compassion to those that are sick. To reach out to those that are isolated. And calm the fears of the worried.
Christians are to be the salt and light of the world. But what good is it if we lose our saltiness? The world desperately needs a church that sets the example and shines God’s light.
I think there’s a lot of people out there that are looking for something better than what they are being sold. They are sick of the hype and the fear. They want something better. As Christians, we have that. How we act over the coming few months will tell them something about Jesus.
The question you need to ask is: What are my actions telling the people around me?
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