Shane Idleman on Eight Things You Should Know About COVID-19 from a Pastoral Perspective

We are all affected by this turbulent moment in our world’s history, but the Bible does provide solid choices in unstable times. All these points are also available in a sermon I just delivered. It can be heard here

  1. Obey the authorities. Unless the authorities are blatantly going against God’s Word, the Bible commands (not encourages) us to submit to their leadership. Titus 3 and Romans 13 immediately come to mind. If ordinances are passed to help contain the virus, we would be wise to heed those instructions. Granted, there are many variables and scenarios, but the primary principle is to obey those in authority. Christians don’t send the right message when we come across with a renegade spirit of rebellion in gray areas.
  2. We run into battle, not away from it. It’s crucial that we use wisdom, but we cannot let fear control us. John Piper argues that “the overwhelming thrust of the New Testament is that the disciples of Jesus incline from the heart toward meeting needs at the risk of loss more regularly — at least we ought to — than we incline toward staying safe and comfortable by neglecting risky helpfulness.” Again, just so I’m not misunderstood, we are called to use wisdom, to guard our families and prevent the spread of any disease. Wisdom tells us that our current healthcare system cannot facilitate a massive outbreak. Jesus said that even if we are bitten by a snake or drink poison (Mark 16:18), He would protect us if it’s according to God’s sovereign will. But that definitely does not mean you or I should grab a rattlesnake or drink poison. The point is to trust God, not challenge Him. But we also cannot forget the last half of the verse in Mark 16:18 that those serving Christ “will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” There is a fine line between faith and presumption. We need much prayer, repentance, and time in His Word to truly get direction. We need orders from Headquarters before marching into battle.
  3. Be very gracious — not everyone sees things the same way. Some want to run right into battle; others want to self-isolate. Anti-vaxxers understand that a vaccine is ultimately not our hope, but those promoting vaccines see it differently. Health experts who understand how the body really works will be at odds with doctors and nurses trained to treat the symptom and not the cause. I’ve had to delete a few posts on social media because they didn’t edify. How about you? We should run everything through the Philipians 4:8 filter before posting: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” As pastors, we also need a lot more grace. Not unlike governing authorities, we have to make decisions related to both spiritual and physical health that affect others — from newborns to the elderly. We have to look at the big picture and make corporate decisions that may not make sense at the individual level. We are living day to day. Decisions that seemed right a few days ago may not seem right today. We all need a lot more grace, patience, and understanding.
  4. Understand the spiritual significance. Because of sin and a fallen world, we have to deal with these issues. God will allow sickness and disease because it often turns people back to Him — it gets our attention. Scripture is also clear that these types of events can be a judgment. While this pandemic may or may not be one, when judgment does fall, it affects the just and the unjust, the righteous and the wayward. Instead of focusing on whether this is a judgment from God, use this opportunity to repent and realign your life with Christ. Those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved — not saved from death but from judgment. This truth is not popular, but it is powerful. Please read more here.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Shane Idleman

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