COVID-19: Be Courageous Yet Concerned
Personal fear, or lack thereof, is not our main concern when deciding how to respond to COVID-19. Loving our neighbor as ourself is.
Facebook rant. News of another case in Illinois. California counties shutting down. Facebook rant. Italy pauses mortgage payments. Facebook rant. With one simple scroll on a screen our minds consume conflicting messages about COVID-19.
It seems that people’s responses fall close to two ends of a spectrum. On one end are those who think “If I just wash my hands, I’ll be fine.” “Why should I stay home if I’m healthy and not at risk of getting seriously sick?”
On the other end are those who are very afraid and anxious -- almost paralyzed by the constant news barrage and the projections of how bad this will be.
As citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven sojourning here on earth, how are we to respond to the recent Pandemic of COVID-19? We cannot claim to have all the answers, but we can seek the Scriptures and utilize our faculties of reason to make prudent and loving decisions.
“If I just wash my hands, I’ll be fine. Why stay home if I’m healthy and not at risk of getting seriously sick?” The problem with this “I’ll be fine” mentality in response to COVID-19 is that it is based solely on how you might be affected and it doesn’t consider the needs of others. Quite frankly it is selfish, not accounting for the needs of others -- especially those who are at risk -- above our own, which is the Christian way.
When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “You shall Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). For those who are annoyed or upset with all the “hype” and “extreme measures our government is taking”, I encourage you to pause and ask yourself, if I had a chronic lung disease or asthma, how would I want others to respond to COVID-19 to reduce the risk of me getting sick? Then allow your response to help you love your neighbor as yourself.
The other end of the spectrum finds those who are afraid and anxious -- tempted to allow fear to consume them. I want to remind you that we serve a sovereign God who has given us not a spirit of fear but of power and love and self control (2 Timothy 1:7).
But if personal fear is the only thing that we are concerned with, then we are not being faithful disciples of Jesus. It’s possible to be unafraid yet still respond out of personal fear. If fear (or lack thereof) is our only grounding for our response it will lead to one of two things: hysteria (high level of fear) or complacency (low level of fear). Personal fear, wherever the level falls on the spectrum, cannot be our only framework from which we make our decisions.
Being a healthy 28-year old with no underlying health conditions, based on what the health professionals are saying, I have a small chance of being seriously affected by COVID-19. Yet the research and anecdotal evidence from countries that have already experienced the exponential rise of COVID-19 cases and deaths instruct us to take preventative action as communities to “flatten the curve” and try to reduce the impact for everyone -- thus loving our neighbors well.
Minimizing our exposure to others during this time is not borne out of personal fear but corporate concern. If you want to make a COVID-19 decision based on personal fear you may ask the question, “what are the chances that this affects me?”
If you want to make a decision based on corporate concern you may ask the question, “what can I do to protect the at-risk population around me?” Am I willing to sacrifice the routines of my life? Am I willing to embrace economic turbulence without grumbling? To approach it this way is to approach it from a place of self-sacrificial love. The same way that Christ loves the world.
*Post written jointly by Pastor Kirt and Pastor Jason.
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