If there’s one question we are all asking right now, it’s this one: What is going on in the world? As the pandemic reach the ends of the earth, how can we, Christians, answer this question and what should we do?
From a biblical point of view, knowing that we serve the Lord of all of history, we cannot overlook the macro-structure of the Bible: Creation, Fall, Redemption & Consummation. We live in a fallen world and have a fallen nature. All humanity certainly suffers the consequences of sin that came into the world (Gn 3:17). Although viruses may be part of Creation, after the Fall some viruses take on an evil role causing all sort of problems like natural unbalance, disasters, disease, pandemics or crime – all the result of sin. However, this is not to make us think that our Lord is not in control. One should not attribute the origin of this pandemic only to natural causes, although it is a natural phenomenon, or, on the other hand, view it solely as an act of “the Evil One,” as though Satan were in control of everything that is happening today. Our all-powerful God is always the one in control.
But how are we to assess the fact that so much damage and loss of human life and resources are happening under God’s watch? Our understanding is that God allows these sorts of things to happen as a consequence of the Fall and the disobedience of humankind, and they function as pointers to the consummation of times, the final redemption of all things, humanity and creation as a whole. This has been the status of things since the tragic event of the fall and will continue up to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. On that last day, the impact of redemption will become crystal clear between those that belong to the Lord and the ones that do not. Also, in times like these – times of calamity and great pain – our eyes are drawn to the Creator, as we observe our own fragility as human beings. People may either turn to him or continue to reject him, but all must ask the same questions about their strength and ability to live and continue life in this world. Even the most powerful people must humble themselves.
What about Christians that suffer because of the pandemic? While humanity suffers as a result of God’s action against sin, Christians are affected along with the rest of humanity. This is for our spiritual benefit – our discipline and growth in sanctification. We learn to be thankful for each day we receive from the hands of the Almighty. The people of Israel in Old Testament times were sent into exile, believers and non-believers alike. So too today, we have a taste of exile ourselves, not being able to gather together, to worship corporately, and to have deep physical fellowship with God’s people.
What are we to do during these times? We certainly can continue most of our work, living out the universal priesthood of the saints: 1) acting responsibly towards our own communities, avoiding the spreading of the disease; 2) praying intensely for God’s mercy and healing among the nations; 3) operating effectively in good works towards the sick, the needy and the poor; and 4) preaching with clarity the gospel of salvation to the lost.
About The Author
Mauro Fernando Meister is the Director of the Centro Presbiteriano de Pós-Graduação Andrew Jumper Instituto Presbiteriano Mackenzie in São Paulo, Brazil (cpaj.mackenzie.br).