Pastor's Corner

18 Mar
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Mid-Week Challenge

A lot can happen in a week.  Looking back on last week’s Midweek Challenge the reaction to the coronavirus pandemic has declined.  More cases have been reported, the Stock Market has been paused a couple of times, Disney World is closed and “social distancing” will likely be the word of 2020. COVID-19 is indeed unique and calls for a time of greater awareness but it also presents a unique opportunity to take Christ to our frightened culture.  

The media’s job is to sensationalize any event that might impact our daily life.  The term they continue to use is “threat,” as if it is something they are excited about.  During political reporting it is the same term (everything President Trump did during his first three years was an “existential threat”).  This “bias for threat” can exacerbate our reaction to the disease, leading to panic. And panic is “an irrational fear reaction that, by definition, your body’s reaction and adrenaline response take over from your ability to actually rationally evaluate the situation.” 

According to Cleveland Clinic, stress causes our bodies to produce greater levels of the hormone cortisol and can cause anxiety and depression. These can lead to elevated inflammation that can compromise our immune system. Stress also decreases the body’s lymphocytes—the white blood cells that help fight infection. The lower our lymphocyte level, the more we are at risk for viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Since, as one professor notes, “the main way we relate to information about the world is through feelings and gut intuitions,” it is vital that we focus on objective medical advice and practical steps we can take today. And it is vital that we turn to resources that can provide peace we cannot produce ourselves. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to times like these, many in our culture believe we have a binary choice: we can trust God or we can trust science, but we cannot do both. This is a false dichotomy. Scientists use minds and abilities given to them by the God who calls us to steward His creation with excellence (Genesis 2:15Philippians 4:8). Christianity has made dramatic contributions to the development of hospitals and the advancement of medical care. According to a University of Chicago study, 76 percent of doctors say they believe in God and 55 percent say their religious beliefs influence their practice of medicine. It is a mistake for scientists to discount God’s wisdom, just as it is a mistake for Christians to discount scientific wisdom. The Great Physician uses physicians in His continued ministry on earth.  He calls physicians just as He calls pastors. He uses their expertise to advance His healing ministry in our broken world. With this mind I’m encouraging you to pray for them, encourage them, and follow their guidance.

In addition, God calls us to use our gifts, abilities, resources, and influence in unique ways as He leads and empowers us. People may be more open to their need for God now than they were a month ago. They may be more aware of their mortality and limitations. They may be more willing to seek help. And they may be more open to our witness and compassion. They are looking to us to see how we handle difficult times that impact us all.  

So with all of this in mind we should make informed decisions based on Science and our faith in God.  The Bible tells us to obey the authorities.  Some in the Christian faith have said we should not allow the government to tell us that we cannot meet.  Unless the authorities are blatantly going against God’s Word, the Bible commands (not encourages) us to submit to their leadership. Titus 3 and Romans 13 immediately come to mind. If ordinances are passed to help contain the virus, we would be wise to heed those instructions. Keep in mind that they are not singling out religious services. It would be different if this rule only applied to churches.  This is for everyone and we should be respectful of our leaders at a time like this.  Another suggestion is be kind and compassionated to others, not everyone sees things the same way.  Being a good witness means having the graciousness to recognize people handle situations like these in different ways.  Find what works best for you and do that without impeding on another’s conscience. 1 Corinthians 8 tells us to be mindful of how personal privilege can have a negative effect on others.  Better not to offend than exercise your freedom.  

Finally, Paul tells the believers in the book of Philippians not to worry or to be anxious about anything. Instead, Paul instructs them they should pray for God's blessing and make supplication for His protection and do it all with thanksgiving.  Love your neighbor as yourself sums it up.  Taking precautions, following the commands of our leaders and just using good common sense says more about our faith in God than anything else.  Trust in the Lord in all things and He will allow you to live in perfect peace at all times! 

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3 

Serving the Savior

Bro. Jonathan

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