Equipped For Covid-19

The world has changed very dramatically for all of us the last few weeks, perhaps forever.  Things many of us took for granted have now been disrupted or threatened:  our health, our schools, our jobs, the ability and freedom to spend time with friends and family, and even attend church.  Suddenly, we have a clearer perspective and sharper focus on the things that really matter in life.  There is no shortage of practical information flooding the airwaves, emails, and social media about how to prepare for, seek help during, and endure the crisis.  However, as Christians, we have a unique responsibility and opportunity to respond to this crisis with hope and peace of mind surpassing what the world has to offer.  The question is whether or not you are spiritually equipped.  Here are 3 basic steps to protect your spiritual well-being during this trial: 

  1. Take a spiritual inventory NOW!

         a. Do you belong to Jesus Christ, really?

Over the last few decades, our society’s view of Christianity has drifted further and further from the biblically-defined Christian.  Christianity is NOT based upon one’s Country of origin, patriotism, reverence for a flag or anthem, affiliation with a political party, church attendance, being a “good person,” having parents or grandparents or a spouse who is “religious.”  Unless you have personally acknowledged that you are a sinner (Rom.3:23), asked Jesus for His forgiveness (Rom. 10:9-10), and have committed yourself to a life of love for and obedience to Him in faith (Eph 2:8; Gal 2:20), you do not belong to Him.  If you truly love Him, you will obey Him (John 14:15), you will live sacrificially for Him (Rom. 12:1), and your life will bear the fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  If you realize that you have not committed your life to Christ, do so now,  acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of a savior, that Christ died for your sins, that He was buried and raised from death, and that you commit your life to Him as your Lord and Savior.

          b. If you belong to Christ, take an honest assessment of His priority in your life.

              i. Have you neglected your prayer time? Christians are called to emulate our Savior.  Jesus prayed relentlessly.  And God’s Word tells us to pray in all circumstances, with a spirit of thanksgiving to Him for who He is and what He has done, for our brothers and sisters in Christ, for our leaders, for the lost, for our enemies.  We are called to give Him our worries, casting our cares on Him.  Faithful Christians are praying Christians.

            ii. Have you neglected your time in His Word? The study of God’s Word, like prayer, is a must for Christians.  Too few pastors teach from the Bible and too few Christians study it.  This has left many Christians as ill-prepared spiritually as we have been generally for this trial we face right now.  Like a baby who grows into a child, then a teenager, a young adult, etc., Christians are called to graduate from spiritual milk to meat, maturing in our faith.  The more we learn of God through the Word, as the Holy Spirit illuminates it, the more we understand the fullness of God, our wretchedness, and the magnitude of our undeserved gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.  As a result of our devotion to the Word (and prayer), our faithfulness, obedience, and Christ-likeness increases.  This is the responsibility and goal for every Christian – and it requires a commitment to time in His Word.

           iii. Have you failed to be a good steward of God’s blessings? During most of our lifetimes, there has not been a greater disruption to daily life in America than the current crisis.  Has God gotten your attention?  During this sobering time, many of us may be realizing that choices we’ve made about the use of our time, our talents, our bodies, and our money have not been God-honoring.  All good things come from God.  All we have we owe to Him.  As Christians, God has prepared good works for us to do and He gives us the means and ability to do them through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Perhaps, rather than scoffing at the gifted athlete who wastes his or her opportunity and shaking our head in disgust when we hear someone spent their rent money at the casino, we should reevaluate our own use of the gifts God has given us.

            iv. Have you been worshipping other gods? I listed a number of things above that many of us have allowed to replace our first love, Jesus Christ.  Americans, in particular, have serious issues with pride, selfishness, and a lack of Godly love.  We allow our passion for God to be replaced with everything from football to entertainment and politics.  We devote our time, energy and resources to things that are passing away, instead of things with eternal significance.  That is idol worship.  Consider whether it is time to reorder your priorities.

              v. Do you think, talk, and behave like the world, instead of Christ? We are in the world, but not of the world, if we belong to Christ.  If there is no discernible distinction between us and our unsaved friends and coworkers and classmates and the like, we are not practicing a life of obedience to Christ.

             vi. Repent and be forgiven. Christians, of course, are far from perfect, but we should be pursuing spiritual maturity.  Acknowledging Christ as our Lord, loving and serving our brothers and sisters in Christ, and practicing an obedient life are all outward manifestations of a Christian.  And that obedience includes regularly seeking God’s forgiveness for the sins we do commit, which He is faithful and just to forgive.  

  1. Stand on the Word of God.

         a. Activate your spiritual protective gear – the armor of God. The personal protective equipment is vital to our health care professionals.  For Christians, the armor of God described in Ephesians 6 serves as our spiritual protection.  Our sword (our weapon as it were) in our spiritual battle during this trial is God’s Holy Word.  Satan temps us with fear and anxiety and doubt.  When we succumb, we lose our joy, our contentment, our faithfulness.  The Bible is our weapon against Satan’s lies and when we spend time in it with God, His truth and His perspective reign in our minds.  In trials, we need to fill our minds with the reality that almighty God reigns in good and bad times.  There is nothing more spiritually uplifting than surveying God’s work in the lives of His people throughout human history, like Noah and Abraham and Joseph and Moses and David and so many others.  Soaking our minds in the truth of God strengthens us so that we can stand firm in our faith and against the schemes of the devil.

           b. God is sovereign. As the Word reminds us, God is the eternal, almighty, creator of the universe who is in control.  For instance, in Romans 8:28, God tells us all things work together for good for those who love Him.  Man may think he is in control, or that his circumstances are in control, but what a relief that God is actually in charge.  And though we may not be able to see or understand His plan in its entirety, we know that God is not a liar – our faith and our trust is in Him.  In fact, Scripture continually tells us to rejoice even in our sufferings “…knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope …”.  The testing of our faith produces perseverance – it matures us in our faith.  When we pray and study God’s Word, the worry and doubt of the world are replaced with a peace that surpasses the circumstances we may face, and we are strengthened from within through the Holy Spirit to persevere.  Anyone who has ever surrendered their pain or anguish or fear to God in the midst of a trial and, as a result, experienced His supernatural peace can testify that He keeps His promises to us.  Knowing that, we can maintain a biblical perspective to give over to Him our worries and fears, rather than hold onto them, and He will grant us peace.

             c. Remember the Raven, Remember the Lillies. A year or so ago, we spent several weeks studying the topic of “anxiety-free living.”  We talked a great deal about how blessed even the very poor people of this Country are – not in relation to other Americans – but in comparison to other people around the world.  Many of us have lost any true sense of our needs versus our wants.  As a result, we have become obsessed with our own comfort, desiring and trusting more in the things that bring us comfort than the God who has blessed us to be able to have those things in the first place.  So, at a time when the everyday comforts we have grown to expect and rely on are threatened, it really tests our faith.  In my opinion, there is no more eloquent, convicting, and yet, encouraging Scripture for us than the words of Jesus, Himself, as He taught His disciples in Luke 12:22-31 (ESV):

22 And He [Jesus] said to His disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

In short, do not be anxious, or worry, or fret.  Seek His kingdom, make it your priority to put Him first in your life.  Know that you are precious to Him who feeds the birds and clothes the flowers of the field.  And trust Him to meet your needs.  Anything else is a waste of time and dishonors God, indicating our doubt in His ability to fulfill His Word.  This is the promise of the God of the universe to you and I as believers – let’s trust Him to be who He says He is, and do what He does!

  1. Let your light shine

         a. “All things work together for good, for those who love God.” Romans 8:28 is one of those verses that reminds Christians experiencing trials that, though we may not be able to see or understand what God is doing, or why He is allowing us to experience trouble, His ways are greater than our ways, and His purposes are ultimately for our good and His glory.  Anyone who has walked with the Lord through a trial can probably recall their inability during their tribulation to see or understand why God was allowing it, only at some point afterwards to realize that God was at work, accomplishing something great in the midst of the struggle.  Now, as we struggle with the physical and economic upheaval of a pandemic, and though we may not feel like it, we Christians know that God is at work for our good.

         b. We are God’s ambassadors and He has prepared good works for us to do. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 reminds Christians that we are new creations in Christ, and that we serve as His representatives to a lost world, like an ambassador to a foreign country, urging the unsaved to be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus.  Ephesians 2:10 describes Christians as God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.  Scripture reminds us who we are in Jesus and what our overarching aim in life should be, as we employ our talents and personalities and education and encounters in the world.  The fact that we are here now at this time is not an accident – God has a plan for us.

          c. Be the light God has called you to be. Before we were saved, we loved our sin.  Jesus delivered us from our darkness and we are now, according to Scripture, light in the Lord and lights of the world.  In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said: 

 14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

This is a time of great uncertainty, but for Christians, some things are certain.  We are the undeserved recipients of the greatest gift ever bestowed upon mankind – the gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord. No thing and no one can separate us from Him.  He is in control and He promises to meet our needs.  We have the power of the Holy Spirit in us to guide and protect us.  And God placed us here at this time to be the light to a hopeless, fallen world.  What an awesome opportunity!  So, let’s make sure we are spiritually prepped – keep short account of our sins, pray and spend time in His word, practicing obedience, and be the light God called us to be.  Amen.