While our men did not meet for prayer this morning, as a precaution about sharing illnesses (potentially), yet I know they are praying for all of you today. I know this because they pray always for each of you in our congregational family, as well as for many of your friends and loved ones also.
People often say things like “theology doesn’t have a place in the real world” and “religion has its place, but it isn’t very useful in real life.” I wish to argue vehemently against those ideas. There is a small poster in the Foyer that says, “Your doctrine determines your lifestyle” and “your lifestyle displays your doctrine.”
Those who believe theology and doctrine have no place in the real world are displaying that fact that their theology and understanding of God are so completely skewed that they are unable to recognize His hand in anything, either for good or for bad (2 Corinthians 4). It could be so far developed that they have reached a point of suppressing the truth about God (Romans 1).
But for we who believe, times like these should be seen as an opportunity given to us from God, wherein our theology may be put up on a pedestal for all to see. Do we really believe there is a God? Do we really believe this God desires good for His creation…you know…the people who rejected Him and are rebelling against His law and His grace? Do we really trust that He is with us? Can we really rejoice in times of great trial and tribulation? Can we truly be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us”?
This “pandemic” of COVID-19 is receiving such a tremendous emphasis in our news and social lives that I wanted to write to you concerning the hope we have in Jesus Christ. We believe that He is the Word of God (second person of the eternally self-existent Trinity), made flesh (John 1). We believe that He created and sustains us by the word of His power (Hebrews 1). We believe that He is working all things according to His will (Ephesians 1; Romans 8) and plan (Acts 2:22ff). We know that He has told us that their will be tumultuous times, as a woman caught in the pains of labor, as we approach the time of the end (1 Thessalonians 5; Matthew 24:3-14). And we know that He will come and set things right, initially as the Righteous Ruler over the world for 1,000 years (Revelation 20; Daniel 7:27)…followed by the final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) and the creation of a new heaven and new earth that shall last forever (Revelation 21 & 22).
So, if we truly believe these things, how should we then live in these present conditions? Here is an insight from church history that might help shed some light on our question. I don’t know who originally posted this to Facebook, but it was share with me by one of Judi’s cousins.
If you’re concerned about COVID-19, a little lesson from church history may give perspective. This is Martin Luther’s approach as he faced the plague “Black death”.
"I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God."
The Annotated Luther, Volume 4: Pastoral Writings, page 404.
I pray that the Lord will grant to you the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:4-8) as we continually adjust to the constantly changing rules, regulations and declarations that come out from our government officials.
Even as I am writing this letter, I am interacting with another friend whose son has been hospitalized with an unrelated issue. He has been steadily getting worse and worse for the past couple weeks. This morning he went into cardiac arrest for 10 minutes…further complicating already critical health issues.
She just messaged me to thank me for reminding her and encouraging her to continue clinging to the Lord, in faith, through the encouragement of the Scriptures. I assured her that I am grateful to be able to pass on that which I received. None of it comes from me, but from the Lord who saves me.
Please know that I am praying for each of you, and that there are others within our congregation who are praying for you as well. And even if there were none of us praying for your, there is One who understands your condition. He remembers that our frames are made of dust (Psalm 103), and He took on a frame such as ours so that He could be made our Great High Priest, representing us before the Father (Hebrews 7:21-28; 8:1ff; 1 John 1:8-2:6).
Furthermore, He has given us the Scriptures which are able to encourage us:
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
May the Lord of all grace and glory encourage you through His Word and by His Spirit. AMEN!