The Coronavirus Blessing

How should Christians live when the world seems to be falling apart? The same as always: in joy and hope as witnesses to a fearful, unbelieving public.

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Edited – due to misunderstandings of some readers, please see my follow-up article on what I mean my “ordinary” activities versus activities that tempt God. Read the follow-up here.

Churches across the world have been blessed with a wonderful opportunity to exemplify their peace in Jesus Christ, a peace that surpasses all human understanding. That is the way that the apostle Paul describes the peace of the Christian life in Philippians 4:7; it passes all understandings.

Today, the World Health Organization officially classified the coronavirus as a pandemic, saying that 70% of the earth’s population could become infected. There are many reasons for the natural man to panic and worry. We have already seen numerous congressmen who have self-quarantined themselves over fears of becoming infected. Yet, we are also told by the apostle (2 Timothy 1:7, CSB):

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

The question, though, is do we actually believe that? Is our doctrine merely something we intellectually aspire to, or is it a practical part of the way we live? The natural man cannot know this peace, but only the one who has been born again and is growing in holiness through the reading of the scriptures.

When John received the Revelation from the Lord, he says he was “in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:9b). The word “testimony,” as I bring out in my new commentary on Revelation, is μαρτυρία, marturia, and refers to “testifying,” or “witnessing” about what Jesus did on the Cross. Such a witness in the early days was often sealed with one’s own blood, and thus, the English word martyr came to mean one who dies for the faith. Yet, marturia does not carry this exclusive meaning. The true Christian testifies about Christ every day of his or her life, death merely a possible consequence of that continued lifestyle.

The Christian should not allow any worry of life keep him or her from living how he or she ordinarily lives. How should a Christian live in the midst of the coronovirus hysteria? Just the same way he or she lives when there is no societal panic: by going to one’s job, taking the kids to school, all the ordinary things of life. The Christian is not immune from sickness and if the virus gets bad, many may die, but “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). I am not going to shut myself away from a world dying in sin and going to hell by self-quarantining because there is a chance that I could contract a fatal illness. Christians across the world routinely have to meet under the constant threat of death. Rather, I am going to keep living as a witness for my Lord, and if the Lord decides to take me home then I gain everything. Where does your hope lie? By continuing to live my life, never worried about what may happen, I am testifying that my hope does not rest in this passing world. The apostle again says, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19).

In Revelation 1:13, John sees the Lord clothed with a golden girdle, indicating his priesthood. The earth’s sovereign is also the believer’s advocate in times of suffering and distress. Every moment of a Christian’s pain or misery, whether from cancer or the coronovirus, persecution or slander, it is totally meaningful and working for the believer’s good (Romans 8:28). The apostle says this more in-depth to the church in Corinth, saying (2 Corinthians 4:16-18):

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us and eternal glory that far outweighs then all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

If I contract the coronovirus because I live as a witness (Gr. martyr), then it will have been completely worth it, especially if someone comes to faith in Christ because of the hope and joy I exemplify in Christ during such a tumultuous time. When things are going well, it is easy for the natural man to affirm the hope found in the Christian faith. Yet, in distress, faith is tested and many are revealed to be like the seed that fell on the rocky places, having no root and lasting only a short time until either troubles or persecution came along (Matt. 13:20-21). The apostle Paul also describes this in 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 saying, “If anyone builds on this foundation [i.e., Jesus Christ, verse 11] using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.” Although this is often interpreted to refer to the day of Christ’s return and that is certainly the eschatological application. Yet, from the Lord’s words in Matthew 13, it would be mistake to only apply eschatologically. Any day of distress, whether the fires of persecution or sickness, reveals the lack of true faith in the false convert and the true nature of the Christian’s faith.

Lord, we thank you for blessing your churches across this planet with such a wonderful opportunity to show the world that our hope truly lies in a more sure place. I pray that your gospel shines in this time and brings many into the sure hope of Jesus Christ.

Edited – due to misunderstandings of some readers, please see my follow-up article on what I mean my “ordinary” activities versus activities that tempt God. Read the follow-up here.

1 comments on “The Coronavirus Blessing”

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