It doesn’t take much to realize the state of our nation and even the world is drastically different than it was a month ago. The spread of the coronavirus has caused a fear, panic, and uncertainty that many deem unprecedented. The mass closings of public events, the dramatic swings in the stock market, and even the crazy run on toilet paper, have left a strong sense of uneasiness in the present, and certainly a great deal of questions about the future. How are Christians supposed to respond in a time of crisis? What is the church’s response to a crisis? Ecclesiastes 1:9 reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun. There is no situation in life to which God’s word has not already spoken! If we want to know how the twenty-first century church should respond, we need only to look at the first-century church in the book of Acts. God has given us three words that put the love of Jesus into action.
God has always been concerned about the care of people’s needs socially, physically, and spiritually. The Bible has much to say about caring for widows, orphans, and the vulnerable (Ps. 68:5, Ja. 1:27, etc.). In Acts 6:1, we learn that widows were being neglected. According to 1 Timothy 5:9, the early church cared for widows 60 years of age and older. This is important to note for us today because older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions are those most at risk. Now is not the time to just think of self, but to think of our senior adults and shut-ins who can’t or shouldn’t get out. Call them this week and see what they need. Bring them groceries and leave them at the front door. In Acts 6:3 we read that the church sought out those with a “good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” to care for those widows. This is the time for the church to have a good reputation in the community, to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom from above. Although our services and other events may be shut down, you can’t shut down the gospel, the love of God, and the church. Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 6:18). If the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church, neither can COVID-19.
“Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem” (Acts 6:7). Sharing should be a lifestyle. It’s not just church… it’s life! This is the time to be generous in our giving. Generosity opens doors for the gospel! There are missionaries and ministries that will not continue without your giving. When people are hearing the hysteria of the news, we need to be sharing the hope of the good news! People are thinking about death. They are fearful. I was in the airport this week and it was shoulder to shoulder crowded, but you could hear a pin drop. People were quiet. We pray the fear of the unknown will turn to the fear of the Lord. You have been praying for your one. What better time to share the hope we have in the face of death. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow! There is an urgency to share with your one the message of the cross, forgiveness, the resurrection, and eternal life. Right now, people are more open to a conversation about life and death. It is what everyone is talking about. Be generous and share the gospel.
The first-century church devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 6:4). Devote yourself to an extra time of prayer this week. Fast and pray. Fasting is not just going without food but going after God. Prayer unites us. We are not all going to agree on how to respond to this crisis or on the decisions of our government leaders. The 120 who met in the upper room to pray on the day of Pentecost, were tax collectors like Matthew, political radicals like Simon the Zealot, blue collar fishermen, a Greek named Phillip, and a pessimist named doubting Thomas. Simon of Cyrene was from Northern Africa and Nicodemus was a Pharisee. Women were in the upper room praying, which was unusual in that era. Only one possible thing could bring them together…Jesus. They checked all agendas at the door and they prayed. We have to do the same. Prayer is the solution because Jesus is the answer! Pray for our President and political leaders. Pray for the scientific and medical community. Pray for health care professionals. Pray for the protection of our missionaries and their families around the world. Pray that God would use this global crisis to advance His gospel to the ends of the earth, to every people group, tribe, and tongue.
The President has declared a national state of emergency. He said the emergency action would “unleash the full power of the federal government” and he called on Americans to band together in a time of national strain. I am personally praying that this crisis will unleash the full power of the Holy Spirit in the Church of Jesus Christ resulting in the greatest revival and spiritual awakening of our lifetime.
Your Pastor loves you and I am praying for you!