The Christian Tension of Covid-19
The Christian life is one of many different tensions, not balance. While Buddhists and other eastern religious philosophies stress the yin and yang balance of life, Christians instead live in a constant tension of competing worldviews, embracing these tensions. The Christian believes wholeheartedly in God’s sovereignty while at the same time holding firmly to human responsibility. The Christian believes in the power of the gospel and the necessity of the law. The Christian believes in submission to human law while firmly believing God’s laws supercede human laws. Christians believe that Christ has defeated sin and death and the devil once and for all, but recognize that sin and death and the devil are still fighting its way against us to the end (this is called “inaugurated” eschatology or an “already-and-not-yet” eschatology). Christians believe we are made for the new heavens and the new earth with an eternal perspective while being good stewards of the current earth we live in and impacting the community and same world we inhabit. And Christians believe in discernment and wisdom in countering and fighting this pandemic while acting in faith and without fear.
All of these tensions are challenging to maintain. They can’t be “figured out,” any more than we can figure out all of God. These tensions emphasize the truth of Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” God is the potter and we are but clay. (Romans 9) His ways are above ours and his thoughts above ours. In this present day, what an important reminder for all of us.
All of these tensions can have drastic and harmful pendulum shifts that can lead to legalism, lovelessness, idolatry, and sin. What can look holy can be sinful. What can look fearful can be full of faith. So it is very important that we acknowledge the challenge of the tension, that we surround ourselves with others who can see the danger of extreme pendulum shits, and that we love others enough to speak up when they are teetering on fear or legalism or anxiety or judgmentalism. No one is righteous (Rom 3), so in all things, we must be willing to be supernaturally gracious to one another.
I write this because I do believe it IS possible to be discerning, cautious, proactive in stemming the flow of this pandemic. If we are to isolate ourselves for the purpose of a societal good and to love others by protecting them from ourselves, then that can be a God-glorifying, kindness towards others. This act can be full of faith and love and truly a blessing. Also, when we act in faith while following health recommendations, we can be at peace and a means of God’s grace to comfort during such times. So the act of self-imposed isolation in itself can be a true blessing.
But the same act can also be sinful if it is full of fear, anxiety, and self-centeredness. Of course, no one can truly know what is the ultimate motivation of one’s heart. Sometimes even we can’t truly know our own heart. (Mark 7:21-22) But again, this is where God’s Word is the primary means we can know what are our truest motivations: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
So if we are at home quarantining ourselves for weeks, may we do so in love and faith. And if we are out and about, may we do so lovingly wise enough to care for others in the midst of this pandemic. May we show grace to one another. May we move forward in faith. May we fight fear and anxiety as the world is so full of both at this present hour. May we stand firm and shine like stars (Phil 2:15), love one another and be gracious to one another, whether at home or at work or at a store.
I leave you with “In Christ Alone” by Keith and Kristyn Getty. We need these words for today:
In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.”