On the heels of disastrous events, the gospel has unprecedented opportunity.
When God has done the work of shaking their foundations, many people are ready to look to him for the first time. COVID-19 presents us with a divine opportunity to point people to Christ as we cling to God’s promise to continue to work his good purpose on earth:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
– Matthew 24:14 ESV
To be effective in taking advantage of this opportunity, we first have to be practical. This is not a time for carelessness or bravado, nor is it a time for panic. It is a time to heed wise counsel.
We all have a natural bias. Some of us gravitate toward worst-case scenarios and doomsday prophecies. Others tend to brush aside warnings as hysteria or some kind of mainstream media political agenda. It’s wise to know your bias, avoid extremes, and use discernment in what advice you adhere to.
So, what is the way of wisdom in these times?
We must avoid online extremists, particularly those that pander to our bias. Social media, of course, isn’t helping in this. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that in an age of unparalleled access to information, during a crisis, social media does more to spread disinformation and hysteria.
As Christians, we walk the path of wisdom in these weeks by deferring to the CDC and to our government. This is why God gave us those governing officials. By following their leadership, we honor God and help contribute to the good of our neighbors.
It is certainly a bizarre time when the most loving thing we can do for our neighbors, for our friends, and for our community is to see them less often. But in a time of outbreak, that is one of the chief manifestations of neighborly love. As Andy Crouch put it, it is not fear, but love, that should move us to practice social distancing.
The restrictions we are all currently feeling are uncomfortable, but if we love our neighbors, we’ll take them seriously. You may not be particularly at risk. You may feel young and healthy and invulnerable. But love demands that we think of others more highly than ourselves. We are taking precautions against COVID-19 not only because we’re concerned about what it may do to us, but because we are concerned about what it will do to our more vulnerable neighbors.
The restrictions we are all currently feeling are uncomfortable, but if we love our neighbors, we’ll take them seriously. Love demands that we think of others more highly than ourselves.
I look forward to a time when, as a society, we can look back at these days as past and offer hope to those who have been changed by them. For now, we take precautions for the sake of those at risk. We take advantage of every opportunity to serve others while keeping a safe distance. We get creative in how we take the gospel to the ends of the earth, even while staying put.
In these extraordinary times, many of us will show our love by staying at home.