A Time Such As This: COVID-19 And Christ’s Church

Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus the majority of the churches in North America have closed their doors. Some are doing livestreams. Others have resigned to sending emails and prayer chains.

What does this means for the state of the global Church? Is this a massive blow to the Gospel, to evangelism, to the Church’s relevance in our society?

We need to keep praying for our world and for our communities and prepare for the end of this. 

Historically, after war, famine and plague there has been massive revivals.

We are believing for revival after the end results of COVID-19. People will be looking for hope. 

The Church must be prepared. We must be in prayer and seeking the Lord. 

The spiritual climate as of late has been dark. We have seen an increase of sickness and hardships and now a pandemic that has left Canada in a state of disparity, worry, fear and distrust. You can see it in the eyes of those you pass at the grocery store as people in a panic grab everything they can get their hands on. Selfishness rules the day as people worry about number one and act out in irrational fear. 

Jesus did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity but a spirit of power, love and of self control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

We cannot afford to buy into the wisdom of the world. We must cling to the wisdom of God which is a wisdom birthed by faith and by the Holy Spirit. 

The Church has always risen to the opportunity to love in every terrible situation. In every war, in every natural disaster and in every plague. By being the hands and feet of Christ we cancel the assignments of the enemy. The darkness around us is his doing and he wishes to cripple the Church for the coming revival. I hear of 2020 being a “bad year.” People are resigning 2020 as some sort of write-off due to the present situation. What the Holy Spirit said to me at the beginning of the year and what He is still saying is that 2020 will be a year of harvest. He has told me this prior to this health crisis and He has not changed His mind. What the Holy Spirit has proclaimed will not be superseded by the works of the enemy. However, we must stand firm with the light that is within us. 

Last week was Saint Patrick’s day. His life story is very timely in our present state. He was a man radically devoted to being Christ’s light in the darkness. He was a missionary in a society devoted to pagan religion which practised witchcraft and human sacrifices. 

I am reminded of when the King of Ireland proclaimed no fire to be lit in all of Ireland in celebration of a Druid holiday. 

Saint Patrick defied this order and lit a large fire on the highest hill. It burned bright in the darkness. 

When he was brought before the King and was asked why he would defy the order, he preached the Gospel. He stated that Jesus is the light in the dark night. That His flame comes and extinguishes the darkness in our hearts. He expressed the truth of Jesus being the light of the world!

St. Patrick was bold in the darkness. He almost single handily turned the hearts and minds of the people of Ireland to Christ. One man or women with the Holy Spirit can do more then a hundred men and women without Him. 

The last two weeks my family and I have been going through struggles not directly tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been up late every night and we are weary. As I lamented to Jesus about my weariness and the way things don’t seem to be going right for us, He spoke to me. 

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14) 

This is a call not to be inactive but to trust Jesus with what you cannot control. I cannot micromanage all my circumstances–sickness, pestilence, natural disaster, other people’s actions. Much of this is out of our control. We can only do what we can do. In every actions we need to have faith that the Holy Spirit will use us. With what is out of our control we need to have faith that Jesus will see us through. 

If we look at the verses that precede verse 14:

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.” (Exodus 14:13)

How many times did Jesus say “Fear not”? 

This is a command of peace. Stand firm in your troubles. Stand firm at this time of disease and unrest. 

What does standing firm look like?

Doing what the Church has always done. Sharing Jesus with everyone you meet.

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, drive out demons. Give as freely as you have received.” (Matthew 10:8)

Leprosy was considered a highly contagious disease in Jesus day. Yet Jesus and His disciples didn’t hesitate to lay hands upon the leper to bring healing. This must be our same attitude facing those ill with COVID-19. Take precautions if need be, like wearing a proper face mask and gloves but do not ignore the need. Jesus has called us to a time like this.

We hear a great deal about using wisdom. Wisdom and fear are miles apart. Fear and faith are total opposites. We serve a mighty God who does not compromise His commands or love on the back of a virus. His wisdom is the wisdom of love not of fear.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were condemned to be thrown into the fire as a result of obeying God rather than men, they said: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”( Daniel 3:16-18)

They were un-afraid of death for they knew they were doing the will of God. They had faith that they would be delivered. Even more they had faith that they were held by God even in death. Their faith went beyond safety and went into eternity.

That is the hope that believers in Christ are to hold.

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Matthew 16:25)

“For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past.

And I trust that my life will bring honour to Christ, whether I live or die.

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.

But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ.

So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.

But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.” (Philippians 1:20-24)

Our lives are gifted to us to be used by God. To love Christ, to serve Christ. When we spend our lives in the service of the King there is no throwing away your life. There is no “saving your life” if we are not willing to do the things Jesus has commanded us to do.

Foolishness would be putting yourself in harms way for no purpose or reason. The Gospel is always a worthwhile reason. Every action, every twist and turn of our lives should be focused on the Gospel.

Wisdom says take the precautions you can without subverting evangelism, without subverting your call, your purpose or the Gospel. Trusting the Holy Spirit is protecting you and will protect you until the end. It is trusting that when your life does end, Christ will keep you into eternity.

Above all “Fear not for God is with you.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Don’t allow precaution to turn to fear. Do not allow this virus to make you fearful of people. People need Jesus and many are realizing their need for Him for the very first time. Those around you need the peace you carry.

The Holy Spirit’s power is unaffected by COVID-19 and He lives within you.

His power still wants to flow forth from you, touching the lives of those who desperately need Jesus.

Do you need to lay hands on people? No, most people would not be receptive to that at this time. The Holy Spirit moves and touch’s others at the moment you open your mouth to pray. His peace will rush over all you speak to in Jesus name.

You can bring food to those shut in due to this virus. You can help the more vulnerable in society by running errands for them. There are lineups for the banks, for the grocery stores, everywhere. You are a light of hope. While you stand there waiting. Smile and make conversation. People need to see us unafraid and joyful. We need to share where our joy comes from. Our joy comes from the Lord. There is so much we can accomplish for Christ if we walk forward and do not allow fear to govern our lives.

The enemy would use fear, confusion, and this plague to see the Church grow stale.

Jesus would have us rise to the occasion.

This is the moment when the first sparks of the coming revival are lit.

We are to be those sparks.

We are the light of the world, a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14)

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Choose to be the light in the darkness.

Choose to stand up to fear.

Let your faith increase.

Trust in God. Not in man.

We are here at this junction of history for a reason and a purpose. You were created and formed for Christ’s kingdom strategy at this time. Through this crisis, you are the hands and feet of Christ.

For a time such as this.

Blessings In Jesus’ name.

Photo credit: Nathan Frank

The Turbulent, The Resistance, The Cure

We have a dangerous addiction within ourselves, it’s a drive to death, not a passive love, nor a steady hate,
It’s a fury; the addiction to ourselves. 
It’s more work to truly love ourselves than to feed ourselves. For we are much too close to the eyes in our head and to the taste of our tongue. 
We cannot see how fleeting our pleasures are or how pacifying our immediate wants can slowly poison our body and soul. 
Like a sorrowful drunk whose body is rotten and lives only on poison, we feed the glutton and whore in ourselves. 
The form of our addictions may vary, but they are all in need of a cure. 
This cure cannot take form in the people around us. For, how many people are actually free from this illness themselves? Only the ones who find the true cure. These individuals may lead a path to Him but they themselves do not possess the cure. 
The cure can only be Jesus Christ for He has beaten addictions by dying on a wooden cross. He wrestled it into the ground, into the grave, where He defeated it once and for all. 
He now has a mirror in His hand, He can show you the devil’s lies, He can show you the rotting flesh of your addiction, He can show you the grave and where this all will lead. 
Unless you embrace the true life, the opposite of this addiction, the selflessness that will result in the truth and love, that will burn away all decay, will never come to pass.
 
For this romance that He possesses is a romance of care, of tender hands, and heartfelt action.  Through grabbing hold of Christ, you will be given eyes to see the broken you, the hands to tend wounds never seen, the tongue to taste the bitter from the true, and the mirror to see the true you. 
The addiction will be broken and you will become what the human was to be,  you will be given identity. You will be much more than a person, you will be the extension of the kingdom and take your place in His body. 
Amen