As the World Health Organization raised the pandemic level to 5 on a 6 step scale governments worldwide are being encouraged to take steps that could diminish the spread of the 2009 H1N1 virus or as its better known the “Swine Flu.”
If you’ve never been a thorough “hand-washer” now would be the time to acquire that discipline! But of greater concern to me is the response of Christians during a time of crisis–how should Christians respond?
1. There is no substitute for prayer. We can pray God’s mercy and protection over the lives of people. A pandemic is not inevitable…prayer changes things…and our prayers can make a huge difference!
2. Walk in love and faith as opposed to selfishness and fear. Because we have a God who loves and cares for us. Because we have a God who watches over us and is a healer; during this time of potential crisis we are set free from fear and the need to save ourselves which should allow us to be a people of compassion.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness…” (Colossians 3:12). One of the hallmarks of the Early Church and one of the reasons that it made such an impact on a totally pagan culture that hated Christians was the fact that Christians were compassionate and kind. They understood the power of compassion when it comes to touching people’s lives. They lived in a society that devalued life-deformed boys were thrown in the city dump. Unwanted girls were thrown on trash heaps and it was the Christians who came along and rescued those little babies by feeding them and providing for them.
Often you read that the churches’ passion for the poor and the needy was so great that they had seasons of fasting–not just fasting and prayers for the poor but they saved their money from missing those meals and collected it to give to the poor and the needy! In a culture that cared nothing for the poor; it was the Christians who walked the streets and reached out to care for them.
Early church historians tell us that when two devastating disease epidemics swept through the Roman Empire (165 A.D. & 251 A.D.) one third of the people across the Roman Empire died. En masse, people fled the cities for fear the plague might overtake them. In the mist of those epidemics it was the Christians who stayed in the towns and cities to minister to those who were dying and it made a huge impact on the culture. Over time an entire culture was changed because of the Christians’ compassionate and kind response to those around them.
No one wants a crisis but the darkness of the hour creates an opportunity for the Gospel light to shine even brighter if the followers of Jesus will walk in faith and love.