The discovery and spread of COVID-19 has turned the world upside down. Schools, universities, and churches sit empty as groups refuse to congregate. Restaurants in Kentucky, Ohio, and Massachusetts close by order of their respective governors. Essential items fly off the shelves of supermarkets as people stock up in panic. Some predict that history will remember a time before coronavirus, and a time after.
But as Christians, the pandemic presents us a unique opportunity. While some of us are prevented from attending a local church service, church is not cancelled. WE are the church. As our neighbors face fear and need, we get to be Jesus’s hands and feet now more than ever. Here are 5 ways to be the church in the panic of the pandemic.
#1: Spread Peace
Flip to any news channel or scroll social media and you will be overwhelmed with COVID-19 news. Some share helpful facts and updates, others just scream opinions. People are scared, and some want everyone to know. But may it not be so among us.
Christ promises a peace that surpasses understanding (Phil. 4:7). We claim that peace knowing that whatever happens to us on this Earth, the Lord has saved us a place in eternity. We win no matter what. Wouldn’t carrying ourselves in light of that peace be quite the contrast to the rest of the world? Might it make unbelieving neighbors wonder what is keeping us calm, and how they can have it too? Spread peace, for it is your best witness at this time.
#2: Be Considerate
If ever there were a time to think of your fellow humans, it’s now. And the best place to start is with yourself: wash your hands, cover your sneezes and coughs, and stay home when possible. Keeping yourself healthy is vital, because not catching COVID-19 means not spreading it to someone who may be more vulnerable than you.
But in this modern age, we can interact with tons of people without leaving the comfort of our home. That’s why it’s important to watch your words– the entire world is watching us as Christians. During this pandemic, I’ve seen Christians stepping up to spread encouragement and offer help online. Yet I’ve seen others take the opportunity to argue over church closures, shame others, and unintentionally spread panic and misinformation. Now is no time for the latter, but the perfect time for help and encouragement.
#3: Help the Vulnerable
I’ve been incredibly blessed during this epidemic. I’m young and healthy, with a relatively low risk of contracting or suffering complications from COVID-19. I have already finished high school and college, and my graduate program is online, so none of my academic plans are on hold. I get to work from home, so I can keep my income without the risk of exposure. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.
Many elderly people and pregnant women are afraid to leave their homes. Students find themselves confused and uncertain. Some of our friends and neighbors are suddenly without income as their workplace has closed for the foreseeable future. Those of us who have advantages need to reach out to those who are vulnerable right now. Make grocery runs for a pregnant or elderly neighbor. If you’re stuck at home, offer childcare for a parent who still has to work. Jesus had a heart for the vulnerable, and never in modern times have there been so many vulnerable people. Don’t miss this opportunity to live out the heart of Christ.
#4: Bless Someone Financially
Recently, someone shared an article from The Independent on Facebook titled “Coronavirus will bankrupt more people than it kills– and that’s the real global emergency.” I’m certainly not downplaying the severity of the virus for vulnerable populations; the closures and cancellations ease my mind for my grandparents’ sake. But those closures and cancellations mean huge losses of income for laid-off employees and small business owners.
Just as the healthy need to reach out to the vulnerable, the blessed need to reach out to those who have not been so lucky. If you have the means, I encourage you to help someone else. Offer to buy necessities or pay a bill for someone who became suddenly unemployed. Order carryout from a locally-owned restaurant. Buy a gift certificate from a local shop to use once the world returns to normal. In big and small ways, now is the time to be generous.
I saved the most important step for last. We serve a powerful God who protects and provides in times of need. Pray for protection for your vulnerable friends and neighbors. Pray for provision for those who have lost their jobs or own a business. Pray for a sense of unity and compassion among the global church. Be so bold, even, to pray for an end to this pandemic. While He knows the plans He has for this precarious time, He can also do more than we could ever ask or imagine. Let us place our trust in such a God during uncertain days.
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