14 Sep What God wants the Church to do during Coronavirus?
Nations across the world continue to witness unprecedented death, devastation and disruption barring no religion, class, gender or age due to Coronavirus. Coronavirus is not only killing people, it’s devastating economies, crumbling businesses, crushing the poor and the vulnerable. The spiraling effect of this virus is going to have a long-term impact on how the world functions from now on.
Every rational human being including Christians are wondering looking at this catastrophe, searching for an answer to several questions swarming their minds. What is God doing in this calamity? Are these the signs of end days? Is this God’s punishment for the sins of mankind?
Many religions believe that calamities like Coronavirus are the wrath of ‘God’ on human beings. Seizing this helpless situation, some religious people are promoting various natural, physical and spiritual solutions to strengthen their following. However, we also should acknowledge that several religious groups are actively involved in helping the poor and vulnerable communities across the globe.
The church across the world is also affected, with congregations remaining inside their homes. As Sunday worship services had to go online, many preachers for the first time started reminding the congregations that the Church is not a ‘building’ but ‘people’. The churches realized that God is present where two or three gather in His name.’ Many believe that this pandemic has changed the way churches and Christian organizations conduct their affairs.
Calamities like these pose innumerable challenges, as well as unique opportunities. Many people across the world are able to come out of their decades-old routine life, and are able to spend time with themselves, with God and their families along with rediscovering their talents as well as their passion. The churches were able to rediscover new ways of ministering to their congregations. Evangelists were able to find new ways of reaching out to communities. The church is slowly transforming itself, so that it becomes more relevant to today’s digital world.
Amidst this commotion, we see occasional reflections on the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The signs and wonders in the Bible come to our thoughts. However, the Bible says that we should be alert ‘ALWAYS’ as we do not know of the day our Lord returns. Though it’s not a bad idea to become closer to God during these turbulent times, it is important to keep up the same spirit for the rest of our lives.
Most religions unanimously agree that God is Just and punishes ‘sinners’. The Bible tells us that God is not only Just but He is merciful and compassionate. Jonah didn’t like this unique character of God, and accused God for not sending calamity, but instead showing love and compassion.
For the Jews of Jesus’ time, suffering and sin are closely interrelated. Jesus refuted this argument and explained that ‘Sin’ is not the reason why a person is born blind, but it’s for enabling the works of God. Also when Lazarus died, Jesus told that it is for the glory of God.
Bible does speak of human suffering because of the sins of humankind. During Noah’s time, God punished the whole world and every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out. However, it also speaks about how innocent people suffer as well, often through no fault of their own, like the most famous person, Job. Not only Job, but his whole family and servants suffered for no reason.
God’s plan for an individual is based on His ‘sovereign will’ and He will have mercy or compassion according to His will. It is not based on man’s effort, but entirely based on His will. Understanding God’s sovereignty, His mercy and compassion humbles us and leads us to repentance.
The universal sinfulness of humanity started due to the fall of humankind in the Garden of Eden. Jesus calls us not just to repent for the universal sinfulness of humankind, but also for our individual sins so that we will not perish. The Church, which is the body of Christ, leads this call for repentance.
In God’s sovereignty, He made people, weak and strong, intelligent and simple minded, tall and short, and the like. This is God’s diversity.
This creates interdependence. There is also inequality in the world, which is made by humans. Human-made inequality creates anarchy. This interdependency needs to flow out of the Church to the community, and to the nations, so that God is glorified.
Globally, nationalism is sweeping every rich nation, who are increasingly obsessed with the interests of themselves, at the cost of others.
They fail to realize that the all of humanity needs to progress together, as we are deeply interdependent. Here the church needs to show exemplary leadership in demonstrating God’s plan for humanity in giving His life for them. The Holy Spirit empowers each Christian to be the salt and light for this world.
The Church should shine God’s characters of Justice, Mercy and Compassion. Many churches are already engaged with the worst sufferers of this calamity, including- migrant laborers, daily wage workers, small business owners, the elderly and the singles. Not just helping them, but the Church also needs to speak up on behalf of the affected, who can’t speak for themselves.
Calamities should also motivate Christians to start sustainable response mechanisms. In the earlier days, Christians built hospitals, schools and other institutions in response to various crisis. Those mechanisms addressed the root causes of the crisis and served the communities for many years. In addition to immediate short-term response, the Church also needs to focus on the long-term response strategies.
In conclusion, calamities are opportunities to demonstrate God’s Justice and Compassion over humankind. Through active leadership, the Church should respond at both local and global levels so that God’s name is glorified.
Salathiel Nalli is a graduate from Hyderabad EGF, Suncity Zone. He lives with his wife Swarupa and two children Sauriya and Syahrul.