What do you say in the midst of a global crisis? What’s God doing? Is he punishing us for our sin? Is this just a freak accident of nature? What’s going on?
First, I don’t believe this is a specific punishment from God. Throughout Scripture God directs His punishments at specific individuals, cities or nations for abusing His people, for descending into cruelty and violence through idol worship, or for specific acts of disobedience.
I believe this virus is a result of sin, Adam’s sin in rebelling against God and letting sin’s dark decay run rampant in the world, physically and spiritually. Doctors and scientists have been warning politicians about the inevitability of this ever since we experienced the SARS epidemic. In general, we simply haven’t listened and prepared.
So where do we go for truth in the midst of the hype of the media and the nonsense some are posting online. Information about the disease, its prevention, and our response can best be found on the provincial and federal government websites. Government of Saskatchewan Canada
There’s a whole week of reading if you want to survey it all.
From our message this last Sunday we read from Revelation 4
Day and night without ceasing [the creatures around the throne of God] sing,
‘Holy, holy, holy,
the Lord God the Almighty,
who was and is and is to come.’
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,
The creatures are in constant praise of the one who sits on the throne. Their praise triggers a response of praise from the twenty-four elders around the throne. They humble themselves before God’s throne and begin to sing. If you’ve been reading through the book of Revelation you’ll have noticed that this happens a lot. You’re innocently going along and all of a sudden a song breaks out.
That’s because this book is a book of worship. It’s a book full of praise to God for his creation, his redemption, his justice, and his salvation of the world. This song goes like this …
‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.’
So, what does all this worship have to do with us? Worship is our most basic response to God. It restores us to our place in God’s grand scheme of creation and history. In worship we recognize who we are and who God is.
In scripture the downfall of the human race began when we ceased giving thanks to God for his provision and started to wonder if we couldn’t find something better ourselves. In times like these we need to trust God’s provision for us. Easier said than done, I realize, but our whole relationship with Jesus is based on faith, not visible security. Here too we need “faith [to see] the reality of what we hope for; faith is the evidence of things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1)
That’s why the first commandment in scripture is to love God with all our soul, heart, mind and strength. That’s what anchors us for all of life, the joys and the storms. That’s what this chapter depicts – all creation and all his people loving God through worship.
It’s interesting that Jesus automatically connects this command with the flip side, loving those around us. This is no time to create a fortress mentality, worrying about everyone else as a threat. That doesn’t mean we don’t keep our distance appropriately, but we look at people through eyes of compassion, seeking avenues to share the love of Jesus in creative ways.
This morning I got an email from You Version, the Bible app Gwen and I have been reading from lately, and I’d like to share some of their ideas with you.
Here Are 4 Ways We Can Choose Love
1. Encourage one another.
We live in such an incredible time! Even when we can’t be physically present with one another, we can still call, text, email, connect on social media, attend church online, and more.
Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.
2. Support each other.
Some of the most meaningful things we can do are simple and practical. Check in with your neighbours and ask how they’re doing. Share whatever you have. Drop off a meal for someone who can’t get out. Pay for the person behind you in a drive-through. Send an email gift card to a friend.
…our love should not be only words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do.
1 JOHN 3:18
3. Love each other.
Jesus said that loving your neighbour was the second most important commandment. And in the parable of the Good Samaritan, He explained what He meant by that word, “neighbour.” Paul even suggested we turn loving each other into a competition!
Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honour of one another.
4. Point each other to Jesus.
It’s Jesus who calms our storms. But it’s up to us to remind each other of God’s promises. And to pray for one another. You can do both these things — and more.