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18.09.2020

The Pandemic Rule of Christ

Nothing good can be said about the way the Covid-19 crisis treats its victims. Those victims include almost all the world’s population – albeit to widely varying degrees – because of the way the virus has exploited the global interconnectedness forged by business. A Christian response will inevitably be characterised not only by charity but also by deep lament.

But Christians are also called to faith and hope, in part because of the comprehensive scope of Christ’s rule and redemption. This is portrayed in Colossians 1:15-23 using the repetition of ‘all things’. The passage suggests that the gospel is good news because it has consequences for the entire cosmos; it proclaims Christ’s lordship over, and redemption of, all that exists.

The Greek roots of the word pandemic mean ‘all people’. Christ’s rule and redemption, because they encompass all that exists, can therefore be described as truly pandemic. The coronavirus may have the word crown (corona) in its name but its power is subsumed – and will eventually be defeated – by Christ. His crown of thorns stands as a symbol not only of his suffering but also of his all-encompassing sovereignty and redemption.

This is the background against which Christians in every sphere of life can confidently engage with contemporary culture, even during the current crisis. Business leaders can do so in the belief that the flourishing of individuals, communities, and nations depends on the flourishing of business.

Indeed, the crisis gives them an opportunity to rethink their company’s purpose and how it can serve the natural world, including human beings, by meeting the new and complex needs the pandemic has thrust before them. Pre-pandemic commercial practices that were unsustainable and inequitable can be abandoned, rather than reverting to ‘normal’.

Normal is, in fact, another word that bears reconsideration. It derives from a Latin word meaning a carpenter’s square – a tool used to make straight lines and accurate right angles. Debate about the ‘new normal’ must go beyond safe workplace protocols to question the social and moral benchmarks businesses should have.

To do so effectively, a second meaning of the phrase ‘the pandemic rule of Christ’ is necessary. For Christ’s rule to ‘do to others what you would have them do to you’ (Matthew 7:12) is a rule as universal and comprehensive as his sovereign reign. Love is the soil from which the fresh green shoots of good business recovery will spring.

Peter S Heslam
Peter is director of Faith in Business, and Transforming Business, Cambridge.

Comments

  1. Was it really business that facilitated a pandemic? If so, then we should all remember that businesses are people first and foremost who happen to be organised into groups to meet the demands and needs of communities and populations. Businesses respond. Seems to me to be too easy and lazy to blame business. Why, in fact, is there any attempt to blame? Why pass the buck for recovery to an entity?

    Maybe the leadership for change needs to come from servant-hearted Christians and so we start by looking in the mirror first before throwing stones.

    If ‘love is the soil from which…..good business recovery’ then that cuts both ways – employer to employee, business to community, community to business and employee to employer. Now, let’s see……love my boss, love my director, love the person in competition with me for promotion, love my competitor, love my supplier, sacrifice my salary, sacrifice my benefits, sell my assets in businesses that don’t measure up to my values, reduce my debts, pay more by buying from businesses that pay above minimum wage, don’t buy what I want, buy only what I need….just trying to apply 1 Cor 13 into business and the supply & logistics chains we all depend on.

    By Brian Smith - 18th September 2020

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