The question is not whether God is saying something in the midst of this pandemic. God is always saying something. In the Old Testament, there was no word from God for extended periods of time. In the New Testament, under the new covenant, God has revealed himself and his will through both the living word (Jesus Christ) and through the written word. No matter what is going on in this crazy world of ours, there is always a word from God. So the question is not whether God is saying something, the question is what he is saying and how.
God provides strength and guidance in the midst of every crisis.
The danger we face is the temptation to go with the flow of the media and cultural agenda without seeking insight, without prayer, without listening to God. God wants us to discern the times and the seasons and not just float merrily down the stream without knowing where we are heading.
Spiritual leaders have the big, at times almost overwhelming, responsibility of guiding God’s people to live in confidence and victory in difficult days. When we study Bible history, we also see that leaders have a responsibility to stay alert, discern the times, and sound the alarm. Leaders who lead God’s people astray will be judged. Leaders must develop biblical insight to discern where we are heading, praying for wisdom, and developing the knowledge necessary to lead God’s people.
In the midst of the current pandemic, I have been impressed with how disoriented many Christians seem to be. The Bible speaks to this need. Thirty years ago, Bob Young published a study on the role of Baby Boomers in the emerging church. He often cited 1 Chronicles 12:32, seeking to empower people to be “as the men of Issachar who knew the signs of the times and what to do.” In many ways, that passage is still very relevant. We are called to speak clearly and boldly. To call attention to the biblical insight regarding this situation we find ourselves in. Because it is only when we listen to God’s word and clearly read the times will we know what to do.
The end is not yet in sight. The coronavirus pandemic is an international health crisis. The challenges of combatting the virus are constantly before us in the news, on the internet, and in personal conversations. Below the surface and less visible, the virus has brought into focus the nature of our world and the nature of our societies and cultures. Moreover, the spread of the virus has exposed our spiritual stature and how deeply we are committed to living out each day the kingdom of God in our lives. Either our kingdom life and kingdom values are continuing, or we are distracted and disabled from our daily kingdom tasks as disciples.
I fear that many Christians have become near-sighted. I fear that churches have laid aside any vision for reaching people. I hope I am wrong, but I am telling you what I see going on through social media, news and even personal conversations.
In this new world situation, opportunities to advance the gospel abound.
A former professor of mine who is now a missionary in Australia wrote, “God is opening a great and effective door during this time, and we must take advantage of technology to reach more souls, to understand the grace and the sovereignty of God.” You will not be surprised to learn that the church where he serves continues to reach out with the gospel and souls are being baptized into Christ. Souls are being won by the preaching and study of God’s word. A member of Rend Collective posted on Instagram, “The coronavirus has us inside our houses, but we are evangelizing from our houses because this pandemic has served to cause unbelievers to now seek the Almighty.”
Spiritually-minded Christians remain calm and courageous in the face of crisis, adversity, danger, and threats. When we understand that God is God, and when we understand who Jesus is, fear is dispelled. It is easy to think we are further along in our spiritual journey than we really are. In times of crisis, much of what we think, say, and do is quite superficial! Yet, in times like these, we get a clear look at our true spiritual condition.
In times like these, “We do not lose control of our lives. What we lose is the illusion that we were ever in control in the first place.” Ultimately, God is in control.
So ask yourself, “do my actions reflect fear, or do they reflect my trust in the Lord?” What concerns rule your heart? I encourage you not to lose sight of kingdom life and kingdom values. Avoid the disabling distractions that would pull us away from daily kingdom tasks. Stay balanced! Seek God’s eternal purpose. Our vision may be fuzzy, but this is a time when our idea of what it means to be a disciple (Christian) is in clear focus.