5 Christian Responses to COVID-19
Unless you literally live completely off the grid (under a rock that is also off the grid) you are keenly aware of the situation facing every corner of the globe. The Coronavirus outbreak has, as of yesterday, been classified as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. Travel has just been suspended between the US and Europe, the NBA has stopped its season, NCAA March madness will happen without fans in stadiums, the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade has been cancelled, and the list goes on.
As Christians, here are 5 ways that we should be responding in this season:
1. Be part of the Solution, not the Problem
Admit it, many Christians are often prone to leaning towards fundamentalist and extremist paradigms. The Coronavirus must be either one of two things: 1. A massive conspiracy perpetuated by (fill in the blank based on your current political views) designed to disguise the common cold as something more serious. 2. The beginning of the end of the world, apocalyptic end-time tribulation period foretold by John in Revelation. Falling into these types of extreme and fundamentalist viewpoints does nothing more than to neutralize the effectiveness of our voice. Friends, we are called to be Jesus' hands and feet on the earth, walking in supernatural healing, signs and wonders and being the ones offering answers and solutions, not adding to confusion. How do we become an army of solution-bringers? It is far more simple that our over-spiritualization makes it. Become educated (see #2 below). Follow the CDC's simple guidelines and make sure your kids do. Understand WHY the extreme measures (NBA, NCAA, travel bans, etc) are happening - to control the spread so that our healthcare system can better tend to those in need. Churches, use your platforms to teach personal and public health practices to people. Walk in wisdom, not in fear. Don't forward incorrect information on social media. Don't hoard, don't price gauge, don't sell magical healing potions in the name of Jesus. Believe that God still miraculously and supernaturally heals today. Above all, stay calm. God really and truly is in control.
2. Become Educated
As my spiritual father Robert Stearns often jokes, "As Christians we are sometimes fundamentally opposed to thinking". Spiritualization of situations without having real facts about what you are spiritualizing is dangerous and irresponsible. If you call yourself a Christian, you owe it to the rest of us who call ourselves Christians to do your homework and become educated. Stop blaming the media for false information. Stop blaming governmental figures for poor leadership. Do your homework and get educated without expecting to be spoon-fed the truth in one single dose. When I need to figure out how to approach a home project, I turn to YouTube. I watch every single video on the topic that I can find from the craziest most irresponsible guy rigging something up in his garage to the professional who has done that type of work for 50 years. I watch 30 or 40 videos and educate myself. Then, I assess ALL of the information, weed out the ridiculous, dangerous, overly-complicated, and unnecessary, I find the common points of overlap, and I plan my own project. This is exactly how we need to approach the current Coronavirus situation. Absorb every single news source that you can find (stop being afraid of CNN). Watch, read, listen, ask - do your homework. Talk to healthcare professionals that you know personally (we all know at least one doctor or nurse) and then discern the truth, looking for overlap in facts which is where truth can be found more often than not. More importantly, ask the Holy Spirit for discernment. We actually have a spiritual helper that will lead us towards truth. (John 16:13 - But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.)
3. Avoid Fear like the Plague
Nothing, and I mean nothing, will shut us down more quickly than fear. Fear really is a survival instinct that is hard wired into us. In and of itself its not a bad thing, and is what has helped us as humans survive throughout the years. In the case of the current situation, fear should drive us to wash our hands and not touch our faces. However, for us as Christians, coming under a paralyzing spirit of fear is not just a bad thing: it is actually a sin. When we allow ourselves to be given over to a spirit of fear, it cuts us off from the very voice of God the Father. When all we can think about as we pace the house, or toss and turn in bed, is the worry, anxiety, and unknowns that tomorrow will bring, we become shut down and single-mindedly focused on the thing that is causing the fear. Said another way, we have made an idol of that thing. Simply defined, an idol is anything that has a greater place of authority in our lives than God. If we as believers are bowing down and worshipping the Idol of COVID-19, we are not and cannot at the same time be bowing down and worshipping the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Not only that, but from this position we will never be able to be agents of heaven on earth being solution-bringers in the midst of a frightened world. 2 Tim 1:7 - For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind. If the absence of fear means that we have a sound mind, then the presence of fear means that our mind (thoughts/processes/decisions/reactions) are unstable. Let's put off fear in this season so we can be stable and sound-minded.
4. Stay in the place of Worship, Prayer, and the Word
I honor leaders such as Cindy Jacobs who, weeks ago, not only had the prophetic understanding to call together a massive prayer meeting from around the world on this issue but ALSO an apostolic grace to practically pull that prayer call together. Thousands of leaders from many nations were on that call with one unified voice, and it set an example for the rest of the Body. Lou Engle just put out a call for a global 3 day Esther fast here and I pray that many join him. We must stay in the place of Worship, prayer, and the word during this time both corporately and individually. If hand washing, coughing into a tissue, and not touching your face are the 3 primary ways to protect our physical bodies, then worship, prayer, and the Word are the three primary ways to protect our spirits. Worship keeps our focus on God, not on the situation. We remind ourselves through the practice and discipline of worship who He is and we keep our focus on heaven. Likewise, we are called to be priests, standing in the gap between heaven and earth and calling out for supernatural intervention in this critical moment. A global, unified, praying church can be the answer that millions of healthcare system could not be on its own. Lastly, but most certainly not least, we MUST stay grounded in the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. In times like this we must allow the word of God to show us which of our thoughts, feelings, interpretations, and decisions are of the spirit and which are of the soul. Speak the word of God out loud over yourself and your family (start with Psalm 91 if you don't know where to begin). Declare God's word and let it remind you (by separating soul from spirit) of who He is and what He will do.
5. Take Communion
As a parent of three young children and also having older family members, some of which have ongoing respiratory struggles, I was very concerned when the details COVID-19 began to come out. As I took some time to wait on the Lord, I heard Him say so clearly, "Take communion as a family". I was immediately reminded of the story of Passover and how the angel of death passed over the households of those Israelites that had placed lamb's blood over their doorposts. I want to be clear that we are not to take of communion lightly or to consider it a magical ceremony. But what we can do is to use the ceremony of communion as Jesus instructed, "Take this in remembrance of me". As we take communion as individuals and/or families, we are declaring that the blood of the Lamb Jesus is over the doorposts of our homes. We are declaring that we belong to the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob through Jesus. It is interesting that this year, Easter, the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus (April 12) falls directly in the middle of the Jewish days of Passover (April 8-16). I believe even in spite of our faulted Gregorian church calendar that the Lord is speaking clearly to us. Just last night, Chuck Pierce released this word regarding COVID-19 and Passover:
"As God’s Kingdom people, we must understand this is where the Spirit of God now has us in the earth realm. We must always hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the Church. Several interpretations could be given over the situation of COVID-19 as havoc occurs throughout the nations. Some would even say that this virus has stopped any movement where revival can continue. I would say: 'God has put a PAUSE until He sees who is willing to cross over with Him through His blood at Passover.' This Passover will become a dividing line for our future!" Click Here to read Chuck's full article