By Catherine Segars, Crosswalk.com
Shakespeare told us to beware the ides of March. The Bard was no prophet, but this March brought us an international pandemic accompanied by an economic tsunami like none we’ve ever seen.
In an effort to save those valuable, vulnerable souls who are at risk and to preserve our health care system, we’ve initiated a voluntary shutdown of many key industries. The consequences of those closings are unknown and petrifying.
It feels like we’ve swallowed a poison pill to survive a poison pandemic. Let’s first examine reality—on earth and above. Then we’ll look at five amazing things the church can offer the world:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages
The COVID-19 Reality on Earth
My husband works for a very large hospitality firm. Three weeks ago, this business seemed impenetrable. A week and a half ago my husband’s hotel had to lay off 300 workers. And that's just one hotel, in one state, in one city. This is happening in every hotel around the world.
We received a heartbreaking message from the CEO of his company after the massive layoffs. Choking back tears, this industry leader said that the hospitality business has never seen a crisis like this. Not after 9/11. Not during World War II. Not even during the Great Depression.
This is unprecedented. The ramifications are simply mind-boggling.
And this is happening in many industries. I can’t even wrap my head around this reality, the realities of millions of workers suddenly out of work.
How many people can’t pay their bills? How many businesses will close? How can we recover from this?
And then there is the health care crisis. New York City morgues are near capacity as are the hospitals. The number of sick and dying is increasing exponentially. The rest of the country braces for other key cities to face the same.
Can our hospitals handle the load? Will there be enough ventilators? How many people will die?
These questions are keeping us up at night.
COVID-19 has shaken every person to the core because we realize something that just a few weeks ago, we didn’t. Not truly.
We aren’t in control.
That façade of control keeps people comfortable. The stability of our jobs, our pensions and 401ks, our economy, our health and a ready hospital nearby makes for restful nights and smooth sailing.
We don’t live there anymore. Not since COVID-19.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Marco Bonfanti
The Reality of COVID-19 from Above
What God wants His children to see is that while the panic and uncertainty in our health care and private sectors is, indeed, unprecedented in the modern age—so is the open door this crisis offers the church to bless the world and reach the lost.
COVID-19 has tilled a lot of dry, hardened ground in the blink of an eye. People are open now like never before. In an instant—cold and distant hearts have become soft and supple. Souls that weren’t searching a few weeks ago are searching now—because of our collective fear and need.
One Facebook friend shared this:
“I was able to witness to two people the other day where normally they wouldn’t have been open to it. Asking questions and searching for answers. There’s a lot of evil going on, but God will bring good from this for sure.”
God has given His children an unparalleled opportunity to speak faith into fear, light into darkness, life into death. The body of Christ is the hope of the world. We have the answers they need.
This is the moment for the church to rise. This is our moment!
God wants His people to have His perspective. As believers, we must move our eyes away from the chaos and fear to focus on what we have to give the world in this crisis.
What do we as His church have to offer? Here are five amazing things:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/buradaki
1. The Church Can Offer the World a Very Big God
Just like a child cries out for a parent when their surroundings become uncertain, people are crying out for someone to take control of this crisis. Government officials and employees are working around the clock to mitigate the effects of this devastating illness, and they certainly deserve our gratitude and respect.
But let’s be honest, they are doing damage control. They aren’t in control.
We need a BIG GOD, and right now, everyone knows it. We need a God who is in control, and we need a God who cares.
As believers in Christ, we have that God. We are the only ones who do.
The same God who delivered the Israelites from Egypt and parted the Red Sea…
The same God who made the sun stand still so His children could win the battle…
The same God who slew a giant through a shepherd boy…
The same God who saved a nation through an orphan girl…
The same God who eviscerated the prophets of Baal…
The same God who measured the waters in the hallow of his hand and held the dust of the earth in a basket…
The same God who healed the lepers and the blind and the woman who bled…
The same God who raised Christ Jesus from the dead…
is the God who can save us from this crisis.
This is the God we have to offer the world. People need Him now, and they know it. They need a God who can do what man cannot.
Oh, what an opportunity!
The church has the best opportunity we’ve had in decades to offer our God to the world.
So church, don’t succumb to the fear. The second you feel drawn to fear, get on your knees and ask God to help you reach those in fear, those who are hurting, those who don’t know where to turn—because we do know where to turn.
Psalm 24:7 says, “Lift up your heads…that the King of glory may come in.”
People are looking left and right for answers in this crisis. Point their eyes upward so that the King of glory may come. Rest assured in your God and boast of Him to those around you. He is big enough to meet their needs, and yours.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fotomaximu
2. The Church Can Offer the World a Firm Foundation
The sand that so many lives are built on has crumbled under their feet. What was certain for decades, for a lifetime, is no longer certain. Health and livelihood are not a solid foundation for life.
They never were. Only now, everyone knows it. Everyone feels it in their bones.
COVID-19 has made us all aware that our man-made structures are woefully inadequate to provide lasting peace and security. We are powerless in the face of an invisible illness, and we are powerless to save our economy.
A crisis like the coronavirus makes every person keenly aware of our helpless state.
And yet, Jesus told us this long ago:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
As believers in Christ, we have a foundation that this world cannot shake. It is not dependent on our economy, our government, our health, or even our lives. Yes, Jesus told us that the rain will fall and the floods will come. The wind will blow and beat on our houses.
But the house built on the Rock will stand.
The firm foundation that God offers us is not made of human hands, so human hands cannot destroy it. Nor can a pandemic.
As the old hymn says,“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”
We, the church, have the only answer that will satisfy in this crisis. We have the only firm foundation, not only for this life but for the life to come. We have the gift of a solid Rock to offer the world right now.
What a gift that is in a crisis!
So church, let’s give it.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages
3. The Church Can Offer the World Community and Support
During the social distancing phase of this crisis, community is hard—but not impossible. Churches have banded together online. We can share those online service and gathering opportunities with others now in the hopes that when the bands on large gatherings are lifted, they will join us. And they will meet God.
When the church gathers again, our efforts to reach those affected by this crisis can be hands-on. We can embrace them, love them, and lead them to Christ.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12
Alone, we are weak. Together, we will not break. Pray for the hurting to come so we can support them in community, so we can offer them hope and life.
4. The Church Can Offer the World a Sense of Purpose
Scripture teaches us that God doesn’t cause our hardships, but He does allow them. More importantly, He uses them. Romans 8:28 tells us that God takes every difficult circumstance we go through and uses it for our good—if we love Him and are called according to His purpose.
The “if” in that verse is not intended to be punitive or exclusive. God loves everyone, but if our hearts are set against Him, if we are harming ourselves and others through sinful choices, God will not cause good to come from it. He wouldn’t be a loving Father if He did. God allows the pain of this life to drive us to Him so that He can heal us.
God will bring purpose out of our pain if we let Him, if we seek Him, if we choose to love Him and be called according His purpose.
The church offers the world a purpose for this pain. We offer the world a promise that our God will do something good with this suffering if we let Him.
But God also has a purpose for our days. He created each and every human being with a unique purpose in mind. As the lost come seeking a reason for the death around us, we can offer them a reason for life, a reason to live in Christ.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/simonapilolla
5. The Church Can Offer the World an Eternal Perspective
Our faith tells us that this life is like a vapor. COVID-19 has helped people to see the thin veil between this life and the next.
James told us, “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
The brevity of life is a sobering thought, and a necessary one. However long we live on this earth, our time will come to an end. People are thinking about that right now. In this rare, reflective state, the church can point people to a God who offers security not only for this life, but for the life to come.
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” – 1 John 5:13
How comforting it is to know that whatever this life brings, our eternal destination is secure. Now is the time to offer our God who gives eternal life, because now people know that they need Him.
The Church Needs God’s Perspective
God is willing the church to rise up and seize this opportunity! He is willing us to reach this harvest that is suddenly open to truths they didn’t know they needed. Millions of people around the world need a Truth that only we can supply. Millions of people need a church that truly believes what we claim to believe.
THAT church—has never been more attractive to the world.
THAT Truth—has never been more necessary.
Oh, what an opportunity for the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
What do you say, church—are we ready?
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/weerapatkiatdumrong