Christians, COVID-19, and the Dangerous Idol of Personal Safety

Christians, COVID-19, and the Dangerous Idol of Personal Safety March 19, 2020

As I stated in an article a few weeks ago, people all over the world are being affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). In just a couple of weeks, we have seen the number of positive cases swell all over the world. Truly, this is a unique time and it seems that more strange days loom ahead. Not since World War 2 has America seen such Government-enforced measures. While the world scrambles to find a vaccine, manufacture hospital supplies, slow the tumbling stock market, and prevent further spread of the disease, fear festers. For many, the fear and anxiety of the unknown is paralyzing. We want control. We want answers. But more than anything, we crave the assurance of personal security, safety, and health.

America, unlike many nations around the world, has lived for generations in a rather peaceful state. Culturally speaking, our security has rarely been challenged by outside forces. Aside from The Cold War and 9/11 most of the battles have been fought abroad with little threat to our homeland. As a people, we have grown very comfortable, while embracing short memories and personal liberties. We have altogether forgotten the psychological and emotional struggles triggered by a compromised personal security. If the COVID-19 event, however long its duration, teaches us anything, it is that Christians have subtlety manufactured an idol of safety.

God’s word reminds believers that “for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28, ESV). Meaning, ultimately, COVID-19 will be good for the church of Jesus Christ. Of all the things believers are promised in scripture, bodily safety is not one of them. In fact, it says the opposite! We are told by the Apostle Paul that “all who desire to live godly lives shall suffer” (2 Timothy 3:12). Aside from whatever physical and emotional scars the coronavirus might leave upon the body of Christ, we can be sure that, in time, this event will produce wonderful fruit. As backwards as it may sound, Let’s welcome this reality. It is as Charles Spurgeon once said, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages”.

The ugly idol of personal safety has plunged its jagged thorns deep inside the hearts of American Christians. Decades of excessive comforts and conveniences have created lazy, self-serving, inward-looking Christians. Many have forgotten how to trust God for provision. Instead, we have looked to ourselves, our stocked supermarkets, our full refrigerators, and our 401ks to provide the assurance that our future’s are secure. Throughout history, God has often allowed outside forces and tragedies to remind His people to look only to Him for comfort and assurance. We should remember this as we wander into the unknown of the Coronavirus pandemic. Lest we forget, the Israelites wandered the desert 40 years as they learned to trust God for daily provisions.

Whatever trials the days ahead may bring, it seems certain our faith will be tested. How will you choose to respond? At the risk of oversimplifying it, I propose you have two basic choices: fear or faith. Christian, will you look to social distancing and/or to your food supply for security? Or, will you trust the Lord, your God to look after you? We (myself included) must repent of self-trusting and  murmuring under trials designed for our good. Scripture says that we are to consider such trials, and the testing of faith, as “pure joy” (James 1:2). For, they are producing within us character, perseverance, and a hope that does not disappoint. They are making us more Christ like. Jesus begins His famous Sermon on the Mount by pointing out that the poor in spirit are blessed. It’s not the poorness in and of itself that makes them blessed. Rather, it’s the net result of being poor that pushes them to trust God. Wealth and comfort often have the opposite effect.

Let me say this as plainly as I can: Christian, COVID-19, in ways that we may not fully understand in this life, is making you mature and complete in Christ; it is for your good.  Embrace the trial before you, serve your neighbor, and trust Christ in whatever befalls your house. Today is the day to reject the dangerous idol of personal safety and press into your faith. If you struggle or feel like you cannot do so, then enter a season of prayer and plead with God to give you faith and wisdom – Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief! The very act of pleading with God for faith to overcome trials is an act of belief.

As a church, we have a wonderful opportunity to love and serve our community.  Seek out ways to do this. Be the arms, feet, hands, and voice of Jesus. In the coming weeks, millions will be forced to seriously evaluate their mortality. Those who previously would have never been willing to hear about the hope in Christ may want to listen. Be a light in a dark world. Find ways to push back the darkness! Let’s not grumble under afflictions, but instead, recognize them as instruments of grace. Your neighbor needs you to share the love and compassion of Christ with them. Let’s be the church.

I’m encouraged by the words the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in Philippi. Though in prison and recovering from a serious illness, he says to “Stand firm this in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1) and to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus“(4:4-7). Leaving no ambiguity, Paul commands believers to not be anxious. Many of us need to take this to heart.

We must not forget that God is sovereign and we are heirs to the kingdom of heaven. Do not esteem a false sense of personal security and safety (or a lack thereof) as something worthy of your affections. Pluck that idol from your heart and, instead, turn to Christ for your daily provisions and hope. This is the command Paul gives every person who proclaims the name of Christ. Now is the time to make your calling and election sure.

In closing, examine the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. When teaching us how to pray, He instructs us to say, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Notice, He does not teach us to pray for stores of food, supplies, and toilet paper. Instead, we are to focus on today. Let this truth soak deep into your soul. Today, choose faith and seek Christ while He still may be found.

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