Updated: Apr 7, 2020
We are all aware of the the circumstances our current world is facing due to COVID-19, the virus that has quickly spread around the world and impacted daily life for nearly all of us. In any crisis, there are things we want to hear, and thing we need to hear. As a pastor, I’m tasked with saying both. While I want to say everything will be alright, to do so what be dishonest. Instead, situations such as these require sober honesty. The good news is that the Christian tradition has a soberly honest way of approaching situations like this. To start with what we need to hear, our modern way of life has created a world in which a false sense of security has become the norm. Citizens of developed western nations have enjoyed a century of medical advancements that have seen the eradication of many diseases and the development of modern medical interventions that have saved millions of lives from early, untimely death. We are truly blessed to live in such a time. However, we can’t escape the wild side of nature forever. History shows that pandemics are just a way of life. That we experience one in our own time shouldn’t be surprising.
The Christian tradition has always approached such situations with level headed expectation. We should expect situations such as this to arise. Why? Because the world is still in chaos, awaiting the return of the king. The Christian tradition has always maintained that we live in a world that still needs to be fully restored. While we hold the good news that Jesus is king, we await Jesus’ return. In the interim, the powers of sin and death continue to bring chaos upon the world. This is simply how things are. That we’ve lived in a time of relative comfort is a blessing, but it is not a promise, and certainly not a guarantee. How do we respond as the people of God? Well, I believe that we respond realistically. This crisis is just one more reminder that there is much within our current world that needs fixing. We should also respond with wisdom. One of the challenges with the current situation is that many people are not taking it seriously. For perhaps a variety of reasons, we may doubt the advice of the people who know the most about this, and therefore don’t take their warnings seriously. We actually have the information we need to mitigate the spread of this disease, but many people are not following the recommendation of our government leaders. As Christians, we should trust the people whom God has placed in leadership and has given knowledge and understanding of this illness, and do as they are asking us to do. One final response we should have is hope. This brings us to the silver lining in all of this, the message that we want to hear. We, the people of God, hold the only answer to the world’s problems. A situation as sobering as our current one reminds us of our need for God, and we, the people of God, have the opportunity to point towards the hope found in the resurrection of Jesus. While sin and death bring chaos upon the world, God’s plan for solving this problem has already been placed into motion. As Christians, we believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection defeated sin and death once and for all, and that his return will eradicate sin and death forever. This is the hope of the good news of the gospel: that Jesus is king and one day he will return to restore the world, doing away with sin and death forever. So then, how should Christians live in light of our present reality? We should live with sober optimism. We need to be honest about the current state of the world. While we are blessed to live in a time with modern medicine and technology, we must not forget that sin and death still bring chaos upon the world. Yet, as Christians we must hold this in tension with the good news of the gospel that Jesus has defeated sin and death. The hope of the world is in Jesus and his people. We are the hope of the world. These are the times when we must be salt and become like a city lit upon a hill. It is times like this that we have the opportunity to show the love of Jesus to one another and our community. Therefore, may we stay home, following the direction of our local, state, and national leaders. May we seek connection with God and with one another, and may we help one another and our neighbors. We’ll get through this, together. Amen.