At a time like this, we are called as Christians to lead by example.
Paul’s advice still holds till today, where he says, regardless of what the adversary throws our way, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. Romans 8:37. By standing firm in the faith, no disease or plans of Satan can separate us from the love of Jesus, or subdue the effervescence of the Word of God.
The year 2020 is supposed to be a dark period for humanity. Still, it is increasingly glaring that what was meant to derail the church’s advance is turning out for good, considering recent reports that show more people returning to God all over the world than ever before.
Pandemics are not new to Christianity, neither are plagues. The Antonine Plague of 165–180 C.E. that claimed five million lives, along with the Japanese smallpox and the scourge of Justinian that followed, are believed to be some of the earliest recorded diseases that caused extensive destruction and massive loss of lives.
Ever since and with the increase in intercontinental travel and trade, history is replete with large scale pandemics. The current Covid-19 is just as disastrous. Whenever plagues broke out centuries ago, they struck fear in people’s hearts and caused extended restrictions in terms of movement and human interaction.
One way health workers could come into contact with patients in the 19th was through wearing facemasks. At the time, it was discovered that contagious diseases spread through droplets transmitted from person to person. Those facemasks, which were primarily made out of cloth and mainly used by healthcare providers, were eventually replaced with better designed surgical masks.
Today, because of the coronavirus pandemic, everyone is required to wear a facemask in public spaces. The implications of this behavioral shift are far-reaching and have posed quite a bit of challenge to the church, which must continue with God’s work.
As mentioned earlier, the church felt the brunt of the virus, especially when, for several months, there was a lockdown and social distancing rules enforced. In the early church, advancing the gospel was hugely affected. Travel was restricted and social activities were banned. As difficult as the times were, the message of Christ did not die. Today, we are better equipped and thankfully, with the remarkable progress in technology, churches are adapting to the new “abnormal” by seeking creative ways to spread the Kingdom of God’s message continually.
Encouraging as this development is, we are expected to double down by showing more compassion as Jesus did back in the day. We must also recognize that there are fewer laborers out in the field because of the virus’s impact. This situation is not new. Recall, when
“Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
– Matthew 9:35–38.
We are at that time again, where more laborers are needed. This is our primary calling and so as Christians, we are to brace up and be encouraged for the work at hand. Covid-19 must not keep us down; rather, we should increase our faith and disallow fear and anxiety.
So, as you go about your daily activities, we may not see your smile due to your facemask but let your light shine through acts of kindness. Let people feel your warmth. Speak life to hopeless situations. Offer help to those in need. Call up friends, the elderly, and family members who may need a word of encouragement. Nothing works wonders more than a hand of fellowship from an unexpected source.
Let’s remember that the facemask and the pandemic are here for a season, but the gospel is for eternity. These too shall pass and our focus should be on the Good News and how it lifts souls out of despair and hopelessness.
The church must continue to meet, albeit remotely and do good for the community. Where possible, hold socially distanced outreaches. Donate food and toiletries. Help the elderly who may require cleaning, landscaping, and car wash. The church should continue to explore technology to a reasonable extent. Church Management software programs like ChurchPad help minimize the cost of administration while at the same time increasing global reach.
As individuals, we should continue to support the spread of the gospel by giving to those in the frontline actively evangelizing. Yes, things are difficult now, but think about those in the early church that did not have the privilege of global interconnectedness. If they gave up, the benefits accruing to us today would be nonexistent.
And so with gratitude, we must press on as the body of Christ for the sake of those looking for meaning and answers. We must also leave something for the generations coming behind.
Mouth and nose coverings should not muffle the Good News.