Fear is a funny thing. Fear can embolden us and cause us to stand up and fight or it can trigger our flight instinct and send us into a cave to hide from the world. This is a universally known truth and we can see this being played out right before our eyes right now. When the Covid-19 pandemic began to pick up steam most people reacted with retreat. Other people instantly became emboldened and acted very carelessly and acted like there was nothing to this pandemic. So what is the right reaction?
As followers of Christ there is a right reaction to this thing, which lies somewhere in between fight and flight. It is a good thing when we as believers and good citizens decide we should fight to protect out rights as Americans and especially for our religious rights and beliefs. I believe that the church has sat back and allowed God’s word to be watered down and stepped on. We have slept while prayer has been removed from our schools and things that are clearly sin have become the norm in our society. But, this Corona virus thing really blew up quickly and we did not have much time to ponder all the angles when we were faced with decisions.
The careless thing for us as a church would have been to totally fight and say, “I don’t care what is going on and what the government is suggesting we do,” and just continue to meet without a thought about what could happen with the health of our people. The Elders and I prayerfully approached this and decided to take a pause to examine the facts. Then the mandates began to come down and all of a sudden schools, restaurants, gyms, department stores, and yes, even churches had to close their doors. The Bible tells us not to forsake the assembling of our self together, right? So let’s fight this thing! But wait.
As believers, we should always, always, always, ask this question in any circumstance, especially this one; what does the Bible say about this? First of all, the Bible says that each of us should not only look on his own interests, but the interest of others (Philippians 2:4). There are, and were at the beginning of this, people who are more apt to be affected adversely by this thing we know very little about. We don’t want the world to see us lay down, sure, but we don’t want to be uncaring to anyone just to make a point. Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Fear of this unknown virus got us here, however, we can’t solely act on fear but on the greater good of everyone.
We, most importantly, need to glorify God in the decisions we make as individuals and as a church, that is the local body of Christ, that people who are suddenly faced with uncertain times will be looking at. Do we defy what the mandate says to show the world our faith, or do we act in obedience to what the Bible says? What does the Bible say? “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished” (Romans 13:1-2).
So should we be careful of overreach by the government so they don’t go too far? Absolutely! But doing it as true followers of Christ, using Him as an example. We should not let fear nor our circumstances lead us into anything that does not glorify God. Fight, yes, but for the truth of God’s word. Yes, for the care of God’s people and for the sanctity of the church, not for our own feeling, selfishness, pride or fear. So there is a right way to stand up for our rights as citizens and Christians, however their is a wrong way.
What about our flight instinct? So many are still right here, running and hiding from the world. They may say, “Well I’m not hurting anyone and I am staying safe and not infecting anyone. I am not getting out of this house until we know all there is to know about Covid-19 and I know I am not going to get it.” This is the other extreme. It does appear that you are caring for others and not putting them or yourself at risk and it appears you are being a good citizen and not going against the mandates. But as they are lifting these mandates in our state, are you still afraid to leave your home? If you are high risk, this may be the best bet, but what is motivating your decisions? Fear can take over and inform every decision you make.
The enemy wants to paralyze you with fear so that you will not do what you ought to do. The enemy is going to make sure you get plenty of information about Covid-19 so that you will stay afraid and act on your fear, or not act because of fear. So, we need to ask the same question as we did above; what does the Bible say? On the subject of fear, the Bible says a lot, and usually it says, do not fear. “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you (Deuteronomy 31:6).” I love this picture. The Lord God, out in front of us, protecting us from harm. The same people who will accuse you of being insensitive or unchristian for still living your life will accuse you of having no faith in God.
What do we know about the Lord God? The Lord God is sovereign, he is in control of everything, even the most mundane events in our lives. There is a verse, Isaiah 45:7, that makes sense in this circumstance.
I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things. Isaiah 45:7
God is in control of even this awful thing we are experiencing right now. He is sovereign over us. Along with being Sovereign, God is a loving God that does not leave us to just flounder when things get hard. He loves us so completely he chose us to save us and not to leave us hopeless in the world.
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2:4-5.
The question is do you have faith in the sovereignty and love and goodness of God? Do you believe the verse that says “And we know all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose”? If you can believe this you don’t have to allow fear to inform your decisions. You will allow your faith in a sovereign God to inform your decision to stay home or to get out. Faith can inform your decision to come to church or stay home when we can reopen. Allow God to be the one to tell you to wait to get out, not what you read that only feeds your fear.
I am not telling anyone to do anything they do not feel comfortable doing. I am not telling you to stop watching the news or stop reading articles about Covid-19. We should all be informed so that we can make wise and prudent choices. What I am saying is don’t only read articles and watch the news, but be in the word of God and weigh what you read and hear against the infallible Word of God. What we read and hear on the news is spun and can’t always be trusted, but God’s word can always be trusted. Read God’s word and pray for the wisdom of God to help you with your fear and anxiety or your desire to rebel against what is going on. In faith, trust his decision for you and FEAR NOT.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
Be smart and stay safe. Don’t be motivated by the fear we are being fed, but be motivated by faith. I love you and we will be together very soon.