I love living in the U.S. I love my laptop. I love Netflix and Spotify. I love my truck. I’m really grateful God put me here in this place in this time. When I think back on all the other eras of history (The Stone Age? The Inquisition? The Disco Era?), I can’t really think of a time or place I’d rather be living than now. Even right now.
But, this isn’t my home. And, I don’t think I’m alone in sometimes getting way too comfortable here in the U.S., or among the nations, or among the people of this world. At Grace, we are trying to teach and prepare kids to be citizens of God’s Kingdom, yet walk among the people of this earth. Too often, however, we look to the world, its people, its pleasures, and its distractions to mollify us, to comfort us, and to give us strength.
I think God loves us far too deeply to want us to settle for this world, when He has so much more in store for us. Like C.S. Lewis said (paraphrased), He doesn’t want us to be content sitting on the ground making mud pies, when He wants to give us a paradise vacation. And so, God, in His tender mercies, brings us seasons like this, times when national and global fear rise to near hysterical proportions, to shock us from the everyday complacency of loving this world and all its riches too closely, and to remind us of our real treasure, as a child of God and an heir to the Kingdom of Heaven.
There are several truths that times like these, times of being shaken and stirred as a body of Christ, help us remember. I’m going to talk about them over the next several weeks.
First, God is a sovereign God. The Apostle Paul says to the church at Colossae, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16). That means He is not only the creator of all that is, but the sustainer, also. As Christians, we are not deists. We don’t believe in a God who simply sets things in motion and walks away. That’s not what the Bible teaches. It teaches that God is in complete control over this earth and this universe, and its biology. He makes our lungs, He gives us the breath we breathe every minute and every day, and He wills us to breathe again and again. When He stops willing it, we stop breathing.
God also creates and sustains viruses, and they come around again and again as often and as long as God ordains. God allows some of us to be unaffected, some to get sick and survive, and some to sicken and die. Viruses are not agents of evil, but they are used, many times in ways we don’t understand, to ultimately work for God’s glory and our good. All of us will die of something as long as Christ tarries in His return, and anyone who has had a friend or family member perish, or who has been around death, knows it is really unpleasant; in the end, however, all of us who have been given eternal life in Christ Jesus’ blood have been set apart to rule alongside Christ in the New Jerusalem, where there will be no viruses, or at least none that will sicken and kill us. Death doesn’t kill us.
Some of these are hard truths, and really difficult to understand. But, far from making us fatalists, shrugging our shoulders and saying, “well let’s all just die, then,” this view of God’s sovereignty gives us the hope to be able to live this life to the fullest, yet not really hold onto it too tightly, not really love it too much, and not be afraid of a virus or anything else.
Because, here’s the thing: the only way Satan and his demons can really use the virus is to strike fear into us, to cause us to doubt God and His goodness, to cause us to flee from each other, to attack each other, to make bad decisions that hurt others, or to cause us to cling so tightly to this world that we aren’t clinging to God’s promises and His love for us. And, once we release that, once we lose our anxiety because we trust a loving and good and sovereign God who loves us more than we even have capacity to love, who loved us so much that He gave His most precious Son for us; once we make the decision to love His people sacrificially as an act of sacrificial love for Him, then Satan, his demons, and this world have lost their hold over us. We are finally free; no longer slaves to fear, but true servants of the live-giving God.
So, unplug from the media as often as you can, and plug into Scripture and God’s creation enough so that you feel your blood pressure lower and the peace of Christ wash over you. Then you’ll have the mindset to love and teach your kids well, and to love and serve those around you.