The COVID pandemic has provided Christians with a unique and unprecedented opportunity to shine the light of Christ through our unity and love. Sadly, many of us have squandered this opportunity.

Fear and confusion pervade the current COVID climate. Behind both of these, however, is another more insidious element: namely, division. Rather than merely voicing disagreement over the pandemic, many people have stumbled into contempt for those who disagree with them.

People have fractured over countless issues, and this division has too often overflowed into outright hatred.

Nonetheless, on all of these points, Christians should represent a refreshing and compelling image: we have the power to be different.

Our unity, clarity, peace and love can contrast the division, chaos, fear and hatred in the world.

 

Here’s how we can be different…

1. Combatting Fear with Peace

Scripture warns us against fear an incredible 365 times… more than any other commandment in all of the Bible. The phrase “fear not” alone appears around 170 times throughout the Old and New Testaments.

This spirit is encapsulated in Isaiah 41:10:

“fear not, for I am with you;

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Do you suppose that this is an important commandment?

God takes the sin of fear seriously — a lot more seriously than most Christians.

Think about it: we serve the almighty, sovereign God, the Lord of the universe, who “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).

In light of this truth, fear is perhaps the most irrational response Christians could have to any given situation. What basis do we have to be afraid?

Passages like Proverbs 21:1 don’t just apply to monarchs.

We could place any given leaders’ name in the place of the word ‘king’ and the truth would still stand:

For example, from Scripture, we know that Daniel Andrews’ “heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

I’m sure that wouldn’t go down too well with Premier Andrews, but it is true nonetheless.

Amid a global pandemic and a political crisis, it is a comfort to “know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

In contrast to the world, Christians should possess “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension”. (Philippians 4:7)

This is a challenge for all of us.

2. Combatting Confusion with Clarity

One of the most striking characteristics of the COVID pandemic has been the utter confusion and chaos.

Seemingly countless positions on the virus, the lockdowns and the vaccine are floating around the internet. Consequently, it is incredibly easy to become confused and overwhelmed by it all.

Christians don’t have magical inside knowledge of the efficacy of the COVID vaccine or the effectiveness of lockdowns. However, what we do have is a certainty that through it all God’s plan is being accomplished. His name is being glorified in all.

Importantly, we know that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). Confusion is not an attribute of God, nor should it be an attribute of the Christian life.

This is the same peace that we enjoy in the absence of fear. Unlike the world, believers should never be flustered, panicked or overwhelmed.

Certainly, this is not to suggest that Christians be slack in searching for the truth about the pandemic. On the contrary, we should investigate the reality with all diligence and clarity.

It is merely to say that we possess a foundation of certainty, clarity and peace that colours how we interpret and cope with the information that confronts us.

 

3. Combatting Division with Unity and Love

All of the advice outlined above climaxes in this point. Christians must be united in love for each other.

Particularly surrounding the topic of COVID-19 vaccines, many Christians have shown an appalling lack of unity and graciousness within the Body of Christ.

Thankfully, this is far from universal. Specifically, local Christian churches, individuals and leaders have taken a strong stand against vaccine passports, which would have divided the church between those who choose to vaccinate and those who choose otherwise.

We should treat someone’s vaccination status as completely irrelevant to participation in the body of Christ.

Perhaps there is a lack of understanding on some people’s parts. Maybe some Christians are acting out of fear, ignorance or selfishness.

These are conversations that need to be had, but they must not cause disunity.

Furthermore, think about the way we treat one another when we disagree. How does this reflect Christ?

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

Are we loving each other despite our differences? If we are God’s images to the world, how are we making Him look?

Christians must maintain our focus on unity and love for one another and those around us. This is despite how strongly we are convicted or feel about the vaccine, vaccine passports, COVID lockdowns or any other topics.

This is a tough ask for many, but it is critical.

Let’s have a long hard look at how the Church is representing the Good News during this pandemic…

Are we just as panicked, confused and hateful as the world around us?

They have a reason to be: they have no hope.

We, on the other hand, have no excuse.

In a world of chaos, Christians should be clear thinkers. Amidst all the fear, Christians should be at peace, rejoicing in the reality that God is sovereign over all.

As Joseph said to his brothers, so we can say to the evil forces of this world:

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20)

But, most importantly, in a world of division, we should be sharing the light of Christ in unity and love.

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Image by Anatolii Kiriak on Pexels.