What do you notice when you go shopping right now? I love to study people. And right now, when I go to the store, I see fearful people. Almost no one is smiling. They're buying up all the food staples, vitamins, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper they can get their hands on. Many are buying far more than they need despite the negative effect it has on others. Fear causes people to put their needs and desires above others.
In a short time, our country has become overwhelmed by fear. But as God’s people, we have a different set of priorities. Self-preservation is not one of them. Nor is fear.
Lately, I have been filled with gratitude to God for letting this crisis occur during our study of John 13-15. The lessons Jesus had for his disciples are the same ones we need to hear right now:
Care for each other as family.
Love each other sacrificially.
Don't allow yourselves to panic or become fearful.
Rejoice with Jesus.
Live in the peace Jesus has secured for us.
Remain in Jesus' love.
Those things are how Jesus wants us to be. And, as Rick preached this last Sunday, God has given us everything to become that way.
I want to share another verse that tells us how to respond to this crisis.
Romans 8:35-37 explains one of the fundamental truths we must remember:
Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (CSB)
This passage is addressing a common problem: in times of crisis, we may feel like God’s love is missing.
If we feel unloved, that’s only our flesh talking. The Bible clearly tells us that God's adopted children are loved permanently in Christ, regardless of the situation, and especially in times of distress.
The promise of Romans 8:35-37 is simple: God will make us victorious in times of crisis. It’s guaranteed. But that doesn’t mean you will keep your job, your money, or even your life.
Victory, in Romans 8, means conforming to Christ. As Romans 8:29 already said, “For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” God's goal for us is to conform to the character of Jesus Christ. And we reach that goal through trials like the coronavirus and all its accompanying distress.
The best thing we can do is to be aware of God’s work in us. If you have worries, they are based on earthly concerns. God wants you to be concerned with becoming more like Jesus Christ.
Is that your biggest concern?
If it is, then go to God in prayer today. Ask him to help you care for others in your spiritual family. Ask him to help you love others sacrificially. Ask him to not allow you to panic or become fearful. Rejoice with Jesus, because he has conquered and sits at God’s throne, interceding for us until we join him. Live in the peace he offers. Remain in his love. And enjoy the victory God gives you.