Watching the nation as it struggles to understand any pandemic has always given me pause to consider whether Christians really know how to think like Christians in a matter such as this. We, as God’s people, seem all too easily carried up in the same speculative panic that rules the minds of many when a crisis such as the Wuhan coronavirus manifests itself.
In the Bible’s book of Matthew chapter 6, Jesus says, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
This seems to indicate Christ does not want us to panic. We have opportunities during this time to model the Christian difference and to demonstrate how this gospel of ours is a better message than any other.
The Difference Between Concern and Worry
The Wuhan virus is serious, and those who got seriously sick — or have even died — from it are not to be taken lightly nor joked about. There are, nevertheless, significant distinctions we must make to think about this in a biblical manner.
As Christians who have received the love of Christ, we should love one another, so a healthy concern for the health and welfare of our neighbor necessitates a rightful concern about the spread of the Wuhan virus. Just as we would never want Wuhan coronavirus for ourselves, we should not want it for our neighbor.
We should ensure, as faithful citizens, that our government and medical communities are responding to it properly. We should be concerned to the point of taking precautionary measures to mitigate against contracting it or spreading it. Wash your hands thoroughly. (Sing the “Doxology” at a moderate tempo while you wash your hands. It works.)
If your neighbor has contracted coronavirus and needs your help to get medical attention, help him or her. We Christians show God has loved us by loving other people. The Good Samaritan went to great lengths to save the half-dead man on the side of the road. He is properly understood as a picture of Jesus, who gave his life to save you. Greater love has no man than this.
So where does concern end, you may ask? It ends at the point of worry. When Jesus instructed his disciples not to worry, he referred to them as having “little faith.” It takes no faith to worry. As indicated above, we Christians often fail our Lord by looking too much like the rest of the world.
Is the world worried about the Wuhan virus? It would seem so. When our concern turns into a preoccupying worry that we might contract it, we have turned this into a first-commandment issue, with the Wuhan coronavirus — or rather our health and ourselves — being our new idol. Worrying about contracting the virus reveals we do not trust God’s goodness and grace as much as we say we do. If this worrying is our “faith,” we have good reason to be concerned about our salvation.
This ultimately means panic is not an option. If it takes no faith to worry, then panic is the equivalent of apostacy, revealing that we are our own “gods” and that not having absolute control over all matters regarding our bodies and our lives alarms us.
Here, neither the media nor our president’s tweets are helpful. The media seems to want to spread panic. The president’s tweets seem to miss the need to communicate specific policies and, thus, reassure people that not only is the risk low, but also that we are better prepared for the virus than most countries in the world.
If fearmongering is the best these parties can do, we should turn off the TVs and not bother with Twitter. Better to stay home, turn off the TV, log off social media, and wait out the passing of the virus.
Christians Win Either Way
Leaving the medical advice regarding quarantine and care to the professionals, I can still offer one piece of guidance for Christians who have either been exposed to the Wuhan virus or diagnosed with it: Rest in the care of your Creator. Of course, he works through medical procedures, therapies, and medicines. But above all, cast your cares upon him, for he cares for you. In life or in death — although the odds are, you’ll live — you win either way.
One of my pastor acquaintance jokes about being bad at hospitals because, as he sees it, you win either way: You can exit the hospital out the front door, or you can exit it out the back door. Either way, he says with a twinkle in his eye, Christians win. He’s absolutely right.
This is the best part about being a Christian, no? The devil loves to throw disease, pestilence, fear, inter alia at us. But we have Christ. We already have his salvation in our baptisms. We have no need to worry nor to fear the best or worst outcomes should we contract the virus. We have Christ. We have new life. We have eternal life. He cares for us body and soul.
Now is our time to show an anxious nation and an anxious world how Christianity is better than whatever Kool-Aid the rest of the world is drinking.