- 19 Mar
We are faced with something in our nation which is unprecedented. The COVID-19 virus or as it is better known, the Corona virus. How do we as Christians respond? We must take all the precautions we can and let us not be naïve in terms of how Corona will affect our lives, the economy and our nation.
In praying into all this in the early hours of this morning, I was led to the account of Naaman. Now, “Naaman was general of the army under the king of Aram. He was important to his master, who held him in the highest esteem because it was by him that GOD had given victory to Aram: a truly great man, but afflicted with a grievous skin disease.” (2Ki 5:1 MSG)
Naaman hears there is a prophet in this foreign land who could cure his skin disease. He heads off to go and see Elisha. And as the account goes, Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house. (10) Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed." (11) But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. (12) Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage. (2Ki 5:9-12 NIV)
The trouble is, Naaman doesn't like what Elisha suggests for his healing. His logic goes: Why couldn’t this prophet just come out, wave his hand over my disease and set me free from this affliction? The rivers of my home in Damascus, Syria, would have been just fine to wash in. In fact, they'd be cleaner and better. Why should I come all this way just to wash in the Jordan?
I think you and I do this sometimes. We withhold our belief because we don’t agree with “the terms”. Because this is our heart response, we miss the chance to experience all that our Father has in store for us. We can make a lot of excuses, and fear creeps in at a time like this. We can’t see what sense it makes to come back to God.
We respond out of fear. Fear is out there and fear affects how we think and how we react. Fear distorts what we are, and what we are supposed to be. In the Bible we read the phrase ‘perfect love drives out fear’ (1 John 4:18) but the opposite is also true: ‘perfect fear drives out love’. In the face of the Corona virus, I am not suggesting that we are naïve and carry on with business as normal. We must take all the precautions we can. However, let us not fear! And let us not respond as Naaman’s!
It is a time to do things differently than we have been doing. It’s time for Christians to bear witness of the hope we have in Jesus. It is a time to be creative in how we engage with one another and society. It’s time for us be motivated by love and not fear. Now is not the time to be stopping acts of kindness, feeding the poor or to stop praying for one another. While the situation may seem impossible, remember “…Nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)
David says we should be in unity, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) live together in unity!” We should allow the crisis to draw us together not drive us apart. Could this be a time for us as Christians to unite, rise and give account for the hope we have. The Corona virus shows no discrimination and no respect to race, wealth, culture, it could affect anyone. Could it be an opportunity in the face of humanities frailty and mortality to share Jesus with those who otherwise would be oblivious to the Gospel?
Naaman travelled all the way to see the prophet Elisha to receive his healing. But he was not happy with what Elisha said He should do. We have all travelled through life and gotten to where we are through trials and tribulations, through blessings and curses, through good times and bad. We have been sustained by our Father. Now we are faced with the Corona crisis. As the church was persecuted in the account in the book of Acts and spread. If we don’t respond as Naaman’s I believe we could put Jesus on display, respond in love and see many lives transformed through the power of the Gospel.
In closing, let us not be Naaman’s, let us remember that ‘perfect love drives out fear’.
May we lead with love!