Sending The Wrong Message

What message should Christians be spreading during a time of pandemic, when much of the world seems to be in semi-quarantine? A couple weeks ago I addressed this issue in the article “Speak Lord, For Your Servant Is Listening.” Since then, I’ve heard a number of Christian leaders speak to the topic.

I’ve been pleased with some, disappointed in others, and surprised at those who have remained silent.

The latter shouldn’t surprise me, really. They are the preachers who push the health and wealth message. What can they say when Christians actually do come down with the virus? What can they say in response to the social distancing policies designed to limit the spread of the virus? No, we don’t have to do that because we have God’s promise of health and wealth? There are serious Biblical problems with that position, and of course we know that all of us, Christians included, will one day die. So apparently God isn’t keeping His promise, if we read into the Bible that idea. So, silence. What message can they give their friends and neighbors when Christians like everyone else can contract Covid-19 and can be carriers of the virus?

The first group of leaders who have turned to the Bible and are addressing today’s circumstances in light of what the Bible says, seem to me to be seizing the opportunity. People who are afraid or who feel like they’re losing control, who were counting on a job that disappeared over night, who no longer have the comfortable retirement package they once had, need to hear what God says about crisis and about how he works through trials and suffering, how He is sovereign and will not leave or forsake His children. That’s the message those leaders have delivered.

Another group of Christians who have a media presence have given a non-message as their response: God isn’t doing anything different today than He did in years gone by; it’s not up to us to take the events of today as particularly meaningful. Here’s one example:

No doubt the usual silly suspects will tell us why God is doing this to us. A punishment? A warning? A sign? These are knee-jerk would-be Christian reactions in a culture which, generations back, embraced rationalism: everything must have an explanation. But supposing it doesn’t? Supposing real human wisdom doesn’t mean being able to string together some dodgy speculations and say, “So that’s all right then?” What if, after all, there are moments such as T. S. Eliot recognized in the early 1940s, when the only advice is to wait without hope, because we’d be hoping for the wrong thing? (“Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To”)

In response to that article, another leader offered a Biblical counterpoint:

Christian hope is radically different [from the hope the world enjoys], because Christianity is different from every other religion. Why? Because it’s eternally founded on the prophetic words of God, revealed to prophets who wrote down what God said about the future. The God of the Bible is eternal, infinitely above the unfolding of time. He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 22:13). He wrote the complex story of human history before the world began. And he has revealed everything we need to know about the future. (“Surprised By Hopelessness”)

Still one more leader gives a message of repentance and hope. John Piper has written a book on the subject, Coronavirus And Christ (audio book available for free; also available for purchase in various platforms). He not only addresses hope for believers but also the need for repentance.

As I see it, the message of no purpose and hopelessness is the wrong message. I don’t believe God wastes any opportunity to draw people to Himself. More and more, people around the world are asking what God’s doing in and through this pandemic. As places begin to move back toward opening businesses, toward a bit of normalcy, the window is also beginning to close when Christians can spread the Biblical message of repentance and hope to people who have come face to face with their mortality. May many more leaders follow those who are doing so, and not those who are giving the wrong message.

Originally posted Monday at Spec Faith.

Published in: on April 30, 2020 at 3:55 pm  Comments (15)  
Tags: , , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/sending-the-wrong-message/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. John 10:1-10
    10 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
    7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
    This was a zoom Bible study passage we reviewed Wednesday morning. Pondered — remained in my heart/head — “HIS voice” — “calls His sheep by name”…
    so powerful and reassuring
    and amidst the voices of preachers, scientists, journalists, politicians and media pundits– i say BAA BAA
    His Voice is recognized only in His Word
    Bless you Becca

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Susie. That is so helpful and relevant to what’s happening today. God’s care. Hope you are doing well.

      Becky

      Like

  2. What has happened makes perfect sense to me, an no, I don’t think God is uninvolved or has given up on us.

    https://wordpress.com/post/seekingdivineperspective.com/1071

    Liked by 1 person

    • For some reason, the link isn’t working for me, but I appreciate your words affirming God’s work today! We need to hear that message.

      Becky

      Like

  3. I don’t know if you were addressing me or Rebecca, but I read your post from yesterday and commented. I hope you will read my link for a different angle/perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was commenting on Rebecca’s post. I shall get to your post soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rebecca, I want to add a few things here. We human beings have been making a lot of mistakes with respect to God, due to our conditioning.
    1. There is only one God, but there are many paths to reach God.
    2. We are not God’s servant. God neither needs our help nor our service. God much above all this.
    3. We get disappointed when we have expectations. We give up expectations, we have no disappointments.
    4. We have to get out of this feeling, that my way is the best way to reach God. That’s almost like a Muslim thinks.
    5. Now come the real questions…
    6. Does God really want us to reach him? If so, then why did he send us to the Earth? He could have kept us there with him. So what is our purpose on the Earth? Why some people are horn in rich families, some in poor, and some in such places that you would shudder to be anywhere near those places. Can we have a nice healthy discussion?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sure, Sandomina, we can discuss those questions and your previous points. First, the authority I rely upon is the Bible which is “God-breathed.” Consequently, I agree with the first statement in point 1, but not the second. Yes, God is one. The Bible makes that abundantly clear, but no there are not many paths to Him. Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father,” and in another context says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His Son, that whosoever believes on Him will have everlasting life.”

      While there are many people striving to please God and to know him, the Bible teaches that pleasing Him and knowing Him are not possible. Which is why Jesus came—to give us, to do for us, what we could not acquire or do for ourselves.

      But in truth, all religions are exclusive. Hindus would separate from theists on your very first statement. They don’t think God is one. Buddhists would too because they don’t really believe in a god. Muslims think Jesus was a prophet, not God. And so on.

      I’ll let you respond to that if you’d like before moving on to the next point.

      Becky

      Liked by 2 people

      • Calling my way or highway is a Muslim kind of attitude. India has many ways(paths) of reaching God – Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Indian languages do not have any word for religion. However, when outsiders came to India, they started calling us Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh. Their idea was to divide a very homogeneous society. In India, we use a word for these so-called separate religions, ’Path’. Different paths to reach God. The closest word to religion in Indian languages is ’Dharma’, but that also means duty. As per you, for thousands of years, before Jesus, God was not in favor of human beings, so they were left in the lurch. What kind of God does that? Either, you are talking about a very egoistic God, or a God who has no love, or concern for its children.
        India produced Vedas, and Yogasutras, some 7000 years back. Most of the world didn’t even have proper language at that time, forget about, producing the oldest manuscript in human history. Now, if you pick up any religious book thereafter, they are just plain copies of the concepts discussed in Vedas, and Yogasutras.
        Now can you explain, why is God discriminatory? Why some people have it easy, they are born in rich and affluent families, whereas others are born in utter poverty. The poverty you can’t even imagine? Why people in poor countries get paid money to convert to Christianity, why they don’t convert for the love of Jesus?
        You ask me any question about our system and I would be happy to answer. But first, you have to satisfy me with solid reasoning.

        Like

        • Sandomia, you can write off the “one and only one way to God” as Muslim, if you want. It doesn’t make it wrong (what makes the Muslim approach wrong is that they are following a false prophet and they try to force people to their way of thinking). And as I tried to point out in my previous comment, ALL religions take an exclusive position. You refer to the Hindu “paths of god” but clearly they are mutually exclusive with those who say there is only One God. We can’t all be “right” when we are saying things that contradict each other.

          You then make assertions which have no evidence, such as “most of the world didn’t even have proper language at the time,” or religious books are the copies of the concepts discussed in Vedas. And worse, “God was not in favor of humans.”

          The Bible presents a very different picture—that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life.

          In addition, from the beginning everyone knew God and had the same opportunity to obey Him and follow Him. But some walked away from Him, and thus influenced their family, their tribe, their clan, their people group to do the same. They “worshiped and served the creature instead of the Creator.” That decision—those decisions—have long term consequences.

          As far as the easy life into which some are born, in the eternal scheme of things, their wealth makes no difference. James says believers are to wait patiently until the coming of the Lord. Peter says they [the people living for themselves, not God] will give an account to Him with whom they have to do. Paul says godliness with contentment is great gain.

          A poor person or a middle class person or a rich person can be content and godly. The fact is, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All. Rich and poor. All need a Savior. And this life, in the eternal scheme of things, is like a vapor that vanishes away. Paul says, “We brought nothing into this world so we cannot take anything out of it either.” So being rich is, at best, a temporary state that does not give eternal value.

          People who think the here and now is all that matters, will have a hard time. No one I have known or heard of or have seen is content if they have that kind of materialistic worldview. Because, when is enough, enough? If someone is happy with where they are in life, their circumstances will change in a few short years. They will grow older, if nothing else. And then they will have to face death. Because the truth is, rich or poor, people die. The results are in: one out of one persons dies. No one gets out of this world alive. Apart from faith in Jesus Christ. God has promised all people, anywhere, eternal life if they believe in His Son. Believe what? Not just that He existed, although that’s a starting place. But they must accept that He is God’s gift, the very answer to our problem of sin and death. To those who believe in Him, God gives eternal life. Paul says He rescues us from the “dominion of darkness,” because, in fact, we can’t rescue ourselves.

          As far as people in other countries “converting to Christianity” because they are paid, I have no idea to what you refer. If they say they are Christian to get something in return, it certainly isn’t a true conversion.

          Don’t know if this satisfies your request for “solid reasoning,” but as best I can in the brevity of a blog comment, I’ve tried to portray the overarching Biblical view of wealth.

          In Psalms, one writer says more than once, Don’t be bothered by people who get rich, even by wicked means. Instead, trust God.

          The gospel writer even says, since God cares for the flowers and the birds, certainly He will care for us.

          As far as why some have one life and some a very different life, only God knows why. He is the Potter, we the clay. He can make us unto whatever kind of pot he wants and can use us in the way that He sees as best. Best for us. Best for us spiritually, for eternity.

          Becky

          Like

          • That’s so nice of you to get back to me, Becky, but unfortunately neither you have touched upon all the questions I posed to you, nor the answers you attempted to give have any logic. Please read my questions again, I am sure you can do better. If you pose questions to me, I will give you all the answers with logic. I surely don’t want to shatter your belief system.
            Warm regards.

            Like

          • Well, sanomina, I don’t know how to proceed when we’re stuck on the first point. Unless you can agree that all “paths to God” do contradict each other and therefore cannot all be true, there is no point in continuing the discussion. If all paths are true, then what does it matter if one path says one thing and another path says a different thing? From what you said, both are right so any disagreement is no disagreement at all.

            I don’t believe that, and we need to settle that point first.

            Logic?
            If God is One, as Christians say,
            But there are many gods as Hindus say,
            Both can’t be true.
            Hence Christians and Hindus can’t be on the same path to God.

            Becky

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Since you are addressing Rebecca, I will let her answer. I’m sure you will have an interesting discussion. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I see a loving God, Luella who gives us hope and seeks a relationship. I’ve been trying to bring this out through a short daily blog on Facebook.I believe that here is so much in each section of the Lord’s prayer that I took parts day by day during these last few weeks and showed God loving us, forgiving us, wanted a relationship and protecting us as a parent. He’s our Father to be considered holy, and through the Holy Spirit available to us. He has in this world provided for essentials of life. Maybe we can appreciate those more now.
    Jane

    Liked by 1 person


Leave A Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: