By Rich Edison | April 25, 2020
“Cries of fear are heard - terror, not peace.” Jeremiah 30:4
The above text gives an apt description of our world at this time in history. As COVID-19 ravages our planet, killing thousands and destroying lives and economies, we are forced to hunker down in our homes, close our churches and keep our distance from each other. And Mark 3:18 tells us these are but “the beginning of birth pains.”
What are we as Christians to do during these difficult times? Our church doors are closed, but has our work been put on hold? We cannot fellowship together as usual, so do we cease to fellowship at all? What is religion anyway? Is it attending church, singing songs, gathering once a week, then going our own way, having done our penance? Or is it something far more?
James 1:27 says “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
Too often, when we read the above verse, we latch onto that last part, “refusing to let the world corrupt you”, using it as an excuse to hide away from the world, lest we be contaminated by it. However, the text also says true religion is “caring for orphans and widows in their distress”. That is a little hard to do when we’re hunkering down in our church bunkers, safe from the world, but useless to it.
Could it be God is using these difficult times to wake us from our lethargy, self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, and self-isolation to remind us of our need for Him and of the work He has called us to do?
At this moment, with people everywhere “terrified at what they see coming upon the earth”, we need to be voices of hope for our neighbors and friends. With hearts filled with the love of God, we must care “for orphans and widows in their distress” and “share [our] food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.” (James 1:27, Isaiah 58:7). Now, as never before, we are to “walk the talk”, putting love into action.
Yet, you ask, “How can we do this? We are under stay-at-home orders. We’ve been instructed to self-isolate.”
This is a time for innovation, for putting aside our traditional approaches and finding new ways to do the work God has given us. We are at war with the enemy of all that is good and, just as in any conflict, we must adapt to changing conditions. The army that insists on doing things the way they have always been done is doomed to defeat. The same is true for us as soldiers in God’s army.
Right now, you can’t visit a neighbor in-person, but nothing can stop you from calling them up on the phone or contacting them by email or social media. You can find out what they need or run and errand for them. You are still allowed to make them a meal or leave a care package at their front door.
We cannot gather for church, but we can gather online to study, share, and listen to the Word, and we can invite our friends and neighbors to join us. Many people who are afraid or unwilling to walk through the doors of a church just might be willing to tune in online from the comfort of their own homes.
Depression seminars won’t work right now, but sharing a kind word or offering a listening ear over the phone or through Skype is still possible. Cooking schools are out, but you can still share a healthy recipe online or even give a cooking demonstration on YouTube. In-person Bible studies aren’t possible, but with Zoom or Facebook Live you can study with people anywhere in the world.
The possibilities are endless, and nothing is impossible, because “with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26). Right now, God is calling us to think outside the box. Actually, He’s asking even more than that. He’s asking us to step out of the box, to stop hiding from the world, and go make a difference for His Kingdom. The question is, will we answer the call?
This is a time of opportunity for the church. People everywhere are searching for hope. Lonely, depressed, fearful to step out of their homes, they are longing for direction and to reassure them God is still in control. Isolated at home, many are starting to search the Scriptures, seeking guidance in God’s Word. Now, more than ever, we need to be there for them, to lovingly direct them to truth.
Matthew 24:14 promises, “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” COVID-19 or not, this is going to happen. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait! So, let’s get to work; let’s step out of the box. Let’s find new and innovative ways to take this Gospel to the world, letting nothing, not even a pandemic stand in our way! Jesus is coming soon. Let’s tell the world!
Rich Edison is a writer, speaker, and Physician Assistant, who, whether he is working with patients, speaking in public, or writing for his blog, EncouragingWordsforToday.com, strives to daily bring a little hope, inspire positive change, and point people to Jesus.