Has the Pandemic Changed Us or Revealed Us?
You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:17)
The Laodicean Christians did not think they were drifting from God. They assumed all was well. When they received the letter, Rome was beginning to enforce emperor worship. In time they would be tested. Unless they changed, they would find themselves wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked – the antithesis of how they imagined themselves.
Would the coming persecution change them or reveal them?
The COVID pandemic has monopolized our attention. A growing infection rate and rising death toll make it impossible to ignore.
Has the pandemic changed us or revealed us?
The Laodiceans had become comfortable in their faith and developed routines of comfort. When challenged (i.e., Laodicea was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt without help from the state), they took care of it by themselves.
Yet, the people squandered opportunities to serve as God intended. We can surmise that because they also received the letter to the Colossians (Colossians 4:15-16), false doctrine had begun to creep into the church – and they did not realize it!
Any crisis changes us, but it also can reveal our true natures. Christ’s summary of all Biblical directives as “Love God” and “Love your neighbor” (Matthew 22:37-40) invites this question:
“When the pandemic hit, the safety precautions went into place, the stock market dived, unemployment rose – were my first thoughts about God and my neighbor or about me?”
Was your initial response directed upward, outward, or inward?
Sadly, my initial thoughts turned inward. I didn’t fear catching the virus. What bothered me was how the pandemic changed my routines – my comfort. We lost our movie night, visits to the coffee shop or restaurant, vacation plans, and family gatherings.
I had become a Laodicean. In my comfort and routines, I was blinded. I was missing out on the plight of others. Then the pandemic started to hit closer to home. I heard about people I know who had become infected, but they recovered. A friend’s father was in an 11-day coma because of the virus, but he also recovered. But then our CLR student intern’s father contracted the virus. He did not recover, and his son could not attend his funeral. And worst of all, I did not first turn to God for direction and answers. I thought inwardly, selfishly, if not self-righteously.
Sadly, our knee-jerk reactions are often embarrassingly selfish. Yet, there are those of you who recognize that in our work at Christian Life Resources, the challenges continue and are merely colored by a pandemic. There are still pregnancies (wanted and unwanted), there are still medical complications, cancer diagnoses, end-of-life decision-making going on, and many of you wanted to be sure we were still there for others. Your continued support has been awesome.
Thank you for practicing your faith by thinking of others first. Some of you suffered because of the pandemic, yet you continued to support this ministry. Your knee-jerk reaction was one of charity and thoughtfulness. We are deeply humbled by your example.
The pandemic has increased the need for us to speak the truth of God’s Word in love to those facing challenging times. So, I am asking to do what you can. Start with prayer. Go to God first to seek his counsel and encouragement. Then, help others around you. Respect safety concerns, if not for yourself, then for them. And finally, continue to support this ministry to reach others.
Learn from the Laodiceans so that the challenges of life find you properly calibrated in your love for God and others. Then, act with both words and actions. In Christ, we can find no greater example and motivation to sacrifice for others. Learn from and imitate his example.
November 20, 2020
July 24, 2020