The Covid-19 pandemic affects people differently.
Some people react to the current pandemic with panic, others with complacency. Even Christians don’t all respond in the same way. Some say we should have faith in God to protect us and will take few precautions to protect themselves, whilst others believe it is their duty to behave as responsible citizens. Who is right?
The Bible does not mention a pandemic
Well, all right, it mentions plagues, but doesn’t give much advice on dealing with them. It’s our attitude I’m talking about, and there are clues. I have written before about the Christian attitude to risk drawing on the example of Jesus, and I also notice that one of the temptations he experienced was to jump off a high tower to show he had faith God would protect him. His reply was that it is wrong to tempt God or put him to the test. See St Matthew Chapter 4 verses 5 to 7. I don’t think he lacked faith in God. He was just being sensible. Let’s copy him.
Don’t panic, it’s just a pandemic!
You may think it’s all right for me to be calm, if I have good reasons not to worry. In fact, I am in the ‘at risk’ category, due to my age and being asthmatic. I am not blase: I am keeping a distance from others as far as possible. However, as I am not under house arrest, I go out to get some fresh air and exercise, accompanied by our dog, but I am trying to do as much business online or by phone as possible. And I am trusting God to keep me safe, but I am not ‘putting him to the test’.
Is this pandemic my first test of faith?
No. I had been a Christian for only a few months when I failed to help someone in danger. It turned out OK but I felt bad. After that, every day for several weeks I had a near-miss of some kind, usually involving motor vehicles. I got the message: God could end my life any day if he chose. Or he could save it. I am not saying I have never been afraid since, but whenever I am, I pray. You don’t have to close your eyes or kneel. It works, trust me – no: trust God!
How else can Christians react to this pandemic?
At St Paul’s Penketh, Warrington, we have been worshipping in our new building only since October 2019, which I wrote about at the time, and are sad to be unable to use it. However, the church is more than the building!
- We are trying to find ways of helping others, as sometimes a phonecall, tweet or e-mail is a big help, even if you can’t do anything practical for them.
- We are trying to worship God without gathering in one place, and many Christians are being most creative.
- We submit to all lawful authority except where it clearly contravenes the teaching of the Bible, and in an emergency we will give the authorities the benefit of the doubt.
- We are not panic buying, profiteering or spreading fake news.
For more on faith and risk see my book, Load the Dice.
For more on the Church, including whether you need to go, see my book How to Cope with the Church.