“Regardless of exactly how that looks, our response in this unprecedented situation of coronavirus needs to be one that ultimately honors God.“
Collaboration written by Abigail Croft, Rachel Schultz & Jesse Hamrick
We’ve been in quarantine for over a month now. No one remembers what day it is, getting dressed for real is a thing of the past and our worry is running higher than it would be if we were running from place to place. The media (news, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) are still talking about what’s on everyone’s mind: COVID-19.
We get new guidelines, novel suggestions, more opportunities to panic, and increasing uncertainty about who is going to open, when, and if they even should. When it seems like everyone keeps talking about what coronavirus is, let’s consider some things it’s not.
(mostly) NOT persecution
Some legitimate threats are being made to religious liberty throughout the country under the umbrella of coronavirus, but higher courts are addressing the issues accordingly. These threats are not exactly new, although the pandemic is being used as the excuse du jour. But, it is essential to clarify being asked not to meet on Sundays is NOT persecution. Live-streaming church instead of meeting in person, for the sake of protecting our local communities, does NOT mean the church is being unreasonably restricted. Businesses and all centers of worship (not just churches) are being asked to close in light of the pandemic, and those same places are now being allowed to slowly open again.
The gradual process of returning to normal also presents another question: Is the church under attack because they are not prioritized as one of the first things allowed to reopen? We would answer, no. Just as we were patient during quarantine, we will need patience during the reopening process as well. As the Puritan Reformer Richard Baxter noted in his writings on the church, when a government forbids churches from meeting corporately because they are proclaiming the gospel, we must resist; when they forbid church services – along with other public gatherings – during times of pandemic and other like emergencies, it is our duty to submit.
It is important to remember that staying closed does not mean we have given up on meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). Churches have utilized a wide variety of resources to continue to have online sermons, worship, and small group gatherings. If these digital meetings were being shut down also, that would be persecution. Laws specifically targeting the church are considered persecution—and examples of this exist amidst the coronavirus season—but the broad order to limit group sizes and close public buildings is intentioned to #flattenthecurve.
NOT end times (probably)
Although the virus may seem less threatening now, it’s sudden and destructive nature led many to question if coronavirus was the beginning of the end. The rapid spread and unprecedented ability of COVID-19 to change almost everything overnight seemed enough to be a warning sign for what is to come. However, Scripture must be our guide for everything and not our feelings. Examining Mark 13, we see that the signs of the end of the age which Jesus describes do not match up with our
current scenario. “Global pandemic” is not listed among the warning signs that Jesus tells us to watch out for.
That said, we can’t discuss the end times without remembering Mark 13:32: “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” We do not have the authority to say what exactly will come after COVID-19. However, we can examine Scripture and reasonably say that this virus is not likely the end times.
NOT an excuse to finish every show on Netflix
Using our time wisely for the Lord is the expected behavior of a follower of Christ. Although rest is necessary for our bodies and souls, too much of a good thing is the opposite of beneficial. More time to spend at home may mean more movie nights but this is ultimately a season where, in addition to the school and work we must take care of from home, we have a unique opportunity to grow closer to families and certainly to grow closer to the Lord by investing time in studying His Word, worship, and consuming edifying Bible-based resources.
Regardless of exactly how that looks, our response in this unprecedented situation of coronavirus needs to be one that ultimately honors God. Respecting authorities by staying in our homes and obeying social distances regulations is a facet of this (Romans 13:1-2). Monitoring what we post and share on social media, being careful to avoid spreading uncertainty or false prophecy, also glorifies the Lord by only speaking what is edifying (Ephesians 4:29). Finally, spending time studying the Word is an expected daily practice that should continue with or without quarantine. However, COVID-19 has likely opened up time that can be used to increase our study.
So many questions still remain. So many fears still remain. This is why we must remind ourselves daily that the coronavirus is NOT hopeless. Consider what Scripture says:
Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Eternity is our hope, regardless of what our sufferings on earth entail. Paul reminds us in Philippians 1:29 that we have been granted two things: salvation and suffering. So if we put suffering in that perspective, we should use our suffering for God’s glory and rejoice that we are able to do so. We often want to run from suffering, and it may even seem instinctual. However, as we see in Philippians and even Romans 5, suffering is something used for our good. Suffering reminds us that we are not in control. It teaches us to rely on God instead of our own power and – in this way and many others – is a blessing in disguise.
As we continue in quarantine and begin reopening measures, we will surely be familiar with the obvious ways the coronavirus virus has impacted our lives: cancelled plans, higher water bills, and toilet paper. However, as we remember what COVID-19 is, let us remember what it is not and thank God for the blessings through suffering.