Elder Update | July 1st (Part 3)
Fearless, Hopeful and Helpful - Part 3
We see in Scripture that we should not fear death and we see that we have Christ honoring reasons to help preserve lives. As we make efforts to preserve lives, we are called to look for opportunities to labor for the gospel. With this in mind let’s consider how we can apply these truths to our lives in the midst of the current pandemic. So far, Covid-19 has taken the lives of 126,000 Americans. The number of deaths should not cause us to fear but it is also something that we should not dismiss. We also need to be careful about making assumptions that people urging caution are driven by fear. Many Christians are taking precautions regarding the virus not because they fear the virus but because they care for others and are seeing to walk in obedience to the commands of Christ.
The research and data do indicate that the virus is not dangerous for the majority of the population but does seem to be a greater risk for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. However, the probability that the virus is only dangerous for a segment of the population is not a good reason to disregard caution. A person’s age or underlying health conditions does not make their life less valuable. We value their lives just as much as we value our own. I personally have an 81-year-old friend who I am actively engaged with in the work of evangelism. I thank God that he is healthy, and I pray the Lord will grant him repentance and faith while he has the opportunity. Moreover, older saints are a huge blessing to the church as they provide encouragement, wisdom and wonderful examples of perseverance in the faith.
The command to love our neighbors provides us with great motivation to be helpful in regard to slowing the spread of the virus even when it is not a danger to us personally. Unfortunately, some of the decisions that have been made in order to slow the spread of the virus and save lives have come at a great cost. Prolonged shelter-in-place orders meant to slow the spread of the virus and save lives came with many unintended consequences. We could discuss the consequences at length but suffice it to say that these measures should be evaluated and critiqued. But just because some of the responses to the virus might have been bad ideas it doesn’t mean we should be suspicious of and resistant to all ideas. Instead, we can eagerly embrace any idea that might help save lives without causing terrible consequences at least until other remedies for the virus are developed. We have wonderful motivation in the gospel to make sacrifices, be uncomfortable and lay down our preferences for the sake of others even when there is no benefit to us.
As followers of Jesus we must not fear death. Instead, we work together to apply the truths of the gospel to our hearts and lives so that we will be fearless and hopeful. At the same time, we do not assume that efforts to preserve lives, whether it be ours or others, are motivated by fear of death. Many Christians are taking precautions regarding the virus because they care about others. After all, we do have urgent and Christ honoring reasons to participate in the work of saving lives.
Spurgeon, who did not fear death, also believed that is was wise to take action to mitigate the spread of cholera. In a sermon on August 12th, 1866 he said,
“It seems to me that this disease is to a great extent in our own hands, and that if all men would take scrupulous care as to cleanliness, and if better dwellings were provided for the poor, and if overcrowding were effectually prevented, and if the water-supply could be larger, and other sanitary improvements could be carried out, the disease, most probably, would not occur; or, if it did visit us occasionally, as the result of filth in other countries, it would be in a very mitigated form.
The gospel has no quarrel with ventilation, and the doctrines of grace have no dispute with chloride of lime. We preach repentance and faith, but we do not denounce whitewash; and much as we advocate holiness, we always have a good word for cleanliness and sobriety.”
According to Spurgeon, taking precautions to mitigate the spread of a disease did not contradict or undermine the preaching of the gospel. He faithfully and urgently preached the gospel of Jesus Christ while contributing to the efforts to preserve lives. We believe this is a commendable example.
During this pandemic, our hope and prayer for our church family, as well as for all Christians, is that we will be fearless, hopeful and helpful as we seek to labor for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We believe this is the best way we bear witness to the glorious gospel.