Perhaps you have now come to the understanding that COVID-19 is a merciful blessing from God intended to get the world’s attention – that it’s a wake-up call to repent. Now what? How do we convey this message to a lost and dying world? How do we roust the church from its slumber?
I think the best place to start is with prayer and a solid connection with God’s word. In the pages of our bibles, we find a all sorts of guidance. While this is a life-long endeavor, we can learn things every day.
Before you step out into world with this new perspective (that this plague is a gift from God), it would be wise to have a plan. That means you have to put some thought (and prayer) into it.
Before you begin, keep in mind Paul’s instruction, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18) We are also commanded to reconcile others to God (2 Corinthians 5:18–20). There is tension between the two, but notice that the first does not tell us to avoid conflict at all cost. After all, Paul certainly found plenty of that.
Even so, we are to attempt to be peaceful about all this. How might we engage in a conversation? Let’s remember that we, as Christians, are distinct from the rest of the world. We are salt and light to those who are lost and dying. We have faith, peace, hope, and joy in our salvation and our Savior. We look at things much differently.
That would mean that we are not grumblers about this virus. We do not participate in gripe sessions. This, I’ll be very honest with you, has been difficult for me. I’m seeing significant restrictions made on lifestyles and livelihoods based upon emotion with very little comprehensive evidence being offered. As a numbers guy, I need facts; and I’m not getting them.
So, I complain. But does that do any good other than to show how much I am like everybody else, all those lost and dying souls that I am distinct from? Let’s face it, the government is going to do what the government wants, the media is going to do what the media does, and there is very little that I can do to influence either. I’m not suggesting I shut up, but I am thinking that grumbling isn’t biblical.
If I’m planning ahead, I need to plan on how to avoid grumbling. Christians should be good at this. We are supposed to know how to tactfully avoid raunchy conversations or gossip, right? If we don’t, then we should probably learn how.
To be certain, this topic (COVID-19) is unavoidable. There are ways to slip out of it in order to avoid grumbling. I must practice this ahead of time so I know how to do it. It would be wise to role-play with other Christians. You may think that’s silly, but it could be very encouraging for everyone. This is something we all need work on.
Having resolved ourselves to avoid grumbling and to be peaceful about this topic, how do we go about introducing the whole concept that God is using this virus to get our attention? Again, this is going to take some serious thought and practice before you throw it out there. I would not recommend blurting out, “This virus is sent by God! Repent or burn in hellfire for eternity, you sinner!”
No, don’t do that. Leave that to those who have a special commission by God for that type of work. For the rank and file Christian, a softer, gentler approach is wiser.
One way is get a conversation started is to ask a question regarding material that everyone is familiar with. For example, most everyone is familiar with the story of Moses and all the plagues God sent. How about comparing COVID-19 to that and see what comes of it? You could ask, “Remember how God sent plagues on Egypt to get Pharaoh to release the Israelites? Could God be trying to tell us something now?”
Then wait to see what comes of it. If the response is nasty, slip away like you have practiced. There is no need to engage an argument when invited. If it goes favorably, then see if you can coax the conversation further by asking leading questions. You’ll have to think about these things ahead of time so you’re prepared. You don’t need to know the answers to everything. Good teachers don’t, but they DO know how to get the learning juices flowing.
That’s really what we are trying to accomplish. God is using this plague to get the world’s attention. Our job is to work with him. Use this plague to start conversations and get people thinking differently about their circumstances. Ask questions that lead them to the idea that there may be reason for hope behind all this chaos. Through your peaceable, confident, and joyful demeanor, demonstrate that you are different.
Intentionality. If we are going to be different, then we have to be intentional about this Christian life. God will certainly reward you if your heart is truly set on living the life as his ambassador. If you are truly a Christian, you are already an ambassador. Be good at it. Be thoughtful and purposeful. Gain wisdom. Rehearse and practice your material.
It’ll change your life. Look at how Paul talks about the joy he has in sharing the gospel:
Philippians 1:21-26 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
See that? Be intentional about this. My personal prayer is that I get very uncomfortable complaining about this virus and joy-filled in all my effort to understand God’s purpose in it and how I might best do his work. Remember what Jesus said:
John 5:19 19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
That’s what I want to be like.
Father, change me. I want to be like Jesus, to do only what you desire. I want to be like Paul, who finds it more necessary to remain here to share the gospel that to fulfill his desire to be in heaven. I want that passion. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers