This year began with one disaster after another, yet for me the COVID-19 tragedy stands out. It has brought something to my mind which I normally suppress – death. Every day, there are new updates which are hard to miss, and the number of deaths relentlessly ticks higher. At the time of writing, COVID-19 has killed 83, 103 people worldwide, 50 of which were in Australia.
Modern media makes these numbers personal. We see names and faces that remind us that they represent unique, cherished humans stripped of their life – 83, 103 people who will never see their family again. It is such a horrific and confronting image, particularly if (when?) this disease touches our own social circles.
The good news is, we do not need to view death with fear. Through Jesus, we can say,
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
If we stand with Christ, we do not need to fear death. We rejoice with our Saviour and look forward to an eternity free from pain, suffering and death.
Jesus is very clear that
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
As a recent article proclaimed,
“Humanity’s most pressing need right now might seem like a coronavirus vaccine. But in fact, our greatest need is and always has been a spiritual vaccine… At Easter, Jesus offers us His immunity. When we put our faith in Him, we are vaccinated against our sin and all of its shame and guilt. We become immune to judgment and death, and best of all, we are promised eternal life with God.”
There is such joy in these promises! I know I am a wicked man. If left to my own devices I would reject God and pursue the meaningless desires that will never satisfy, but rather leave me empty and alone. We are all in this position of complete rejection of God, yet “while we were still sinners Christ Jesus died for us” at the very first Easter in a demonstration of ultimate love. More than that, “he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”.
So where is the problem?
If we have these promises, why does COVID-19 scare me? Because the promised salvation is set in direct contrast to a coming judgement, and this is the fate of all who reject Christ Jesus. Salvation, freely offered, has not been received by all.
COVID-19 brings death to the front of my mind, and with it I see my family, friends and work colleagues all standing on the brink of this judgement – a judgement which I also faced before Jesus overwhelmed me with saving grace.
At a moment’s notice, any one of us could disappear off the face of this Earth for good and we will not have a second chance to know Jesus. Even without COIVD-19, every 0.8 seconds someone dies separated from God because they do not know Jesus.
I am eternally grateful that someone shared the good news of Jesus with me before my time came. Along with this gratitude, I’m reminded that the Great Commission leaves me no room to sit on the sideline. If I am a servant of Jesus, I must tell people about Him!
“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
We need to regain the urgency of our message
Too often, I stifle own witness through laziness, or fear, or awkwardness, or simply a desire to not make waves. But then I imagine how I would act if I had discovered a cure to COVID-19. I would shout it to every person, every media outlet I could! I would rush to my family and friends with that hope. And yet we have something far better than a cure for COVID-19, and I feel I should remain silent?
Jesus told His disciples:
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
People desperately need Jesus, and this Easter we have the opportunity. Record-breaking sales of Bibles show us that people are thirsting for knowledge of God in this crisis. We are the laborers, and there is a harvest in front of us. It’s time to get to work.