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Coronavirus may spread quickly, but fear is much more contagious.
So, how do we live for and like Jesus when our livelihoods, and potentially even our very lives, are at risk?
1 Peter 1:3 talks of a ‘new birth into a living hope’. These words, originally written to a struggling people facing all kinds of trials, still encourage us today. The reality of Christ’s ultimate victory over death and disease is our source of hope, empowering us to live distinctively. As light in darkness: joyful in suffering, calm in the storm.
Followers of Jesus have a heritage of doing this. In response to plagues in the Roman Empire, the early church selflessly cared for the sick and dying. They had no fear of death, because they knew where their eternal hope lay. More recently, Christians in China risked their lives to hand out facemasks to strangers. We’re called to minister gospel-shaped hope that demonstrates Christ’s incarnational presence.
The natural temptation is to become self-centred. Panic buy. Stockpile. Look out for yourself and your family.
And it’s good to care for close relatives, especially those at risk. But in Luke 10, Jesus calls us further, to love our neighbour, whoever they may be.
Where those near us are forced inside, we can be first to offer support (if we’re able). Ready to post encouragements through doors, call the lonely, collect shopping. Physically distanced, yes. But socially, never closer.
Compassion doesn’t stockpile for itself, but ensures stocks are piled high in local Foodbanks by putting items in supermarket collection points. Now schools and workplaces are shut, there are more mouths to feed and less money to feed them with. We can join mutual aid groups, volunteer for the NHS, or give financially to care for the most vulnerable.
But the motive? Love, not worry. To what extent do our lives testify that the Prince of Peace is sovereign? As Christians, we have access to a hope that nothing else in this world can bring. In a scared world, supernatural shalom is a great gift. Are we offering it?
Let’s pray we would be the church that Christ calls us to be, joining his mission to bring heaven to earth. Choosing peace over panic. Hope over hysteria. Faith over fear.
And, in our response, may the God who rules over all be glorified.
Research Assistant, LICC