Frightened World, Fearless Church
In 3rd Century AD, an epidemic swept across the Roman Empire with 5,000 dying a day in Rome. The sick were abandoned in the streets and the dead were left unburied. In some places, the Christians were being blamed. But while others fled and left loved ones to die, it was the Christians who stayed back and buried the dead risking their lives by taking care of the sick.
Rodney Stark, author of The Rise of Christianity, argues that the dramatic growth of the church during that time can be attributed in part to care and compassion Christians showed for the sick. In other words, when they sacrificially loved their neighbors in a crisis it led to many coming to Christ!
Josh Howerton of Lake Pointe Church, observed that the cycle of world history goes this way,
“The world gets dark… The Spirit falls… The Church rises… People start seeing the light of the world! The world’s crisis is always the gospel’s opportunity!“
We want to do our best to STOP the spread of this virus, and at the same time we want the gospel go viral! We want the hope that we have to be contagious.
AW Tozer said in times like these, A scared world needs a fearless church. – AW Tozer
The night before Jesus faced His personal crisis on the cross, he showed his disciples how much he loved them by taking the role of a servant and humbly washing their feet.
A little later he said, A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34–35
Howerton also says, “Wash your hands, then pick up a towel and wash some feet!” The world will recognize us by the way we love each other! In this crisis, we must choose generosity over greed, helping over hoarding, worship over worry, and faith over fear, instead of seeing what’s happening as an obstacle, see it as an opportunity! Henri Nouwen said,
My whole life I’ve been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered my interruptions were my work.
All our plans have interrupted, what will you do with the interruption?