To paraphrase Jesus’ words, “Do not fear that which can kill the body; fear Him who can cast soul and body into hell”.
In other words, we don’t need to succumb to the pandemic of fear that’s sweeping the word regarding the infamous virus.
We tend to see fear as an unhealthy thing, but there is one type of fear that is healthy: fear of the Lord. The Bible says a lot about this type of fear, going as far as to describe it as “the beginning of wisdom” in more than one place.
“Doesn’t God’s perfect love cast out fear?” you might legitimately question, if you’re knowledgable of the verse to that effect in 1 John. Yes, but we don’t get to enjoy God’s love in perfect fearlessness until the new creation.
So if the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the love of God is the infinite end of wisdom.
The UK has been one of the worst affected countries by the virus, thanks in large part to the fact that elderly sufferers were moved from hospitals to care homes to die and thereby to massage the figures of hospitalised deaths from the virus- an absolute scandal of course.
But as Christians and churches grapple with how to respond to government restrictions, I think we need to tow that fine line between an American propensity to rebelliousness, and a British habit of shrugging our shoulders and making do. This consideration comes largely from a podcast the other week by Speak Life, a UK evangelistic charity that you can search for on YouTube.
Even as the “Rule of Six” comes in to the UK, places of worship are exempt (notwithstanding restrictions regarding social distancing). So my church which has been online is hoping to meet in person in a few weeks in the community centre we hire (which has been understandably cautious).
How are things where you are?
The numbers of infected in my area are rising, but still relatively small. Personally, I’m starting to feel a bit frustrated at the rather arbitrary and slightly draconian seeming restrictions, which feel a bit like attempting to use a sledgehammer to crack, well, a virus!
I totally get the imperative to love our neighbours, to be responsible, to obey God-ordained authorities and all that. But I’m also aware that, with reasonable adjustments, we should be able to meet in order to fulfil a Biblical imperative to not neglect meeting together to encourage one another in humanity’s primary raison d’être- to love, to worship and to enjoy a relationship with God as our Heavenly Father, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Spirit.
In historical pandemics, when all around have been afraid, Christians have loved and served their neighbours practically, putting themselves at risk, in harm’s way in the process. Even just by maintaining a joyful, trusting confidence in God in perplexing and concerning times, we are providing a witness to people of the God who we ought to fear, but who casts fear out by His perfect love.
I’m so grateful to Him that I can testify that I’m not afraid. This isn’t because I’m a particularly courageous- or reckless- person, but simply because of the grace of God in my life. To Him be the praise, the glory and the honour, both now and forevermore, amen!