I hesitate to post this. I have read numerous blog posts and articles by people intending to bring clarity to the current situation in our world with COVID-19 and to the consequent actions that Christians should be taking.
Facebook has become a hotbed of fruitless debate resulting in injured relationships and an apparent lack of the love that Jesus said would identify His disciples. This saddens me deeply. When we have the opportunity to be a light, we are doing more to generate heat than anything else.
Being a fan of John MacArthur, I read his statement on behalf of the elders of Grace Community Church in California with great interest. I’m not linking you to it here because I suspect that many have already seen it. I hope you will read this article with equal interest. I am not proposing any universal response but rather, I agree with this author’s assessment that we ought to be showing more grace and that our current situation is much more complicated than we would like it to be. Accusing others of “not knowing what the church is about and of not shepherding their people” is unhelpful at best.
Regarding the science…we are all learning. Comparing this “pandemic” to others in history is certainly beneficial, but since our response in this situation has been much more immediate and intense than at any other time in history, it is only partly helpful. We can’t know what would have happened if we did not go to the extremes that we have. We can only assume that our conclusions are correct. Quoting medical personnel who agree with what I already think (when I have minimal medical education, except through the internet) is only as helpful as those who quote medical personnel that disagree with me because it supports their argument. We are basically even on that score.
We are all appealing to the same 3 passages of Scripture (Hebrews 10:25, Mark 12:31 and Romans 13:1-7). We all believe that they are abundantly clear in their instruction. Yet we have a variety of explanations as to their precise meaning and their application to us today. I have avoided overt statements, not because I have no opinions but because I don’t think anyone is listening…we are all pontificating and trying to make sure that everyone else hears our opinion.
Instead, I feel compelled to make a plea for reasonableness. When Paul says we should “let our reasonableness be known to everyone” (Philippians 4:5), he used a word that meant “gentle, fair, equitable, mild.” I wish we would see more of that. I will have friends who disagree with me on this score. They will believe that I should be more direct, more decisive, more concerned with shepherding my people well. I accept those accusations. Perhaps they are correct. We are all striving to be like Jesus and can all point to times in His life when He acted the way we think we are acting. But reasonableness requires humility. It requires that I allow others to disagree with me…even to think I’m wrong or ungodly. In the final outcome, I must answer to my Lord and am tasked with reflecting His image to the world around me. So I’m doing my best. I wish you well and pray God’s grace on you as you also seek to be a light in the darkness of our world and in the uncertainty of the current situation.
Let’s love God and long to worship Him together. Let’s love our neighbor, even when it is inconvenient. Let’s demonstrate submission to our governing authorities even when it is frustrating, as long as it doesn’t cause us to sin against God. And let’s be reasonable!