For the last couple of years, a few Christian men and I have gotten together on Tuesday mornings for coffee. Because of the Coronavirus, our coffee shop of choice had to close its doors, so we curtailed that tradition for a while. But feeling the tug to start again, we’ve been meeting outside in the courtyard of a condo complex. Oh, the neighborhood contact-tracers needn’t be concerned, we keep a reasonable distance and limit our gathering to under ten. If he’s lucky, Roger may get his chance to attend next week, as we plan to go to a lottery system.
This Coronavirus, or covid 19, is always a hot topic at these gatherings, as well as the quality of the doughnuts, but last week one of the guys shared the bottom line of a sermon he heard. “Why Christians ought not have any fear of Corona.” I moved to the edge of my chair in anticipation of a bold statement of faith, a nugget of truth I could add to my bag of spiritual gems. But the preacher’s point was not what I’d hoped for. He said, “Christians shouldn’t fear Corona because we’re all going to heaven anyway. And besides that, God has given us the wisdom to stay away from potentially dangerous situations.”
I deflated back in my seat like a popped pool float as the stark reality swept over me. We’ve forgotten the benefits of being children of God. On the surface, and I mean with no digging whatsoever, his conclusion might seem reasonable, but hardly representative of the victorious life Jesus died to give us.
If going to Heaven was all there was to Christianity, the best thing we could do after accepting Christ as our Savior would be to blow our brains out so as to not have to deal with the slings and arrows of this outrageous world. I contend that this is not what Jesus had in mind for his followers.
To be honest, at first, I, too, was carried away with the logic behind social distancing, masks, and surgical gloves. I was focused on prevention. All my thoughts were geared toward safety first! Like a responsible and obedient citizen, I heeded the professionals, selflessly hibernating from my friends ‘til the angel of death had passed. Wandering from room to room, I’d occupy my days humming old familiar tunes, often adapting the lyrics to our current situation.
“Gonna need an ocean of Purell lotion,” for example. I had become Howard Hughes, alone, naked, amid stacks of tissue boxes, and horded Charmin, slowly spelling out “Q U A R A N T I N E.” Hughes was no longer a paranoid eccentric, as depicted in “The Aviator,” to be looked upon with pity despite his billions. To me, he had become the voice of reason. Why, he could be the poster child for covid 19!
When I was compelled to venture from my burrow for food or TP, I’d don all my clinical apparel and screw up the courage to drive to the nearest Publix. I entered cautiously, watching my fellow shoppers with suspicious eyes, judging their masks, on a scale from one to ten, for style, innovation and proper fit. I’d anonymously report non-compliant activities to the CDC hot line.
The audacity of some people, going the wrong way down a clearly marked one-way aisle! I’d bristle at indecisive shoppers, blocking the flow of traffic like a chrome-cart beaver dam. Sheesh! Rest assured, the store’s suggestion box currently holds several of my ideas, including blueprints for a passing lane, critical for getting around “old folks” notorious for being dangerously slow behind the buggy.
Once in the check-out line, I no longer paid attention to Angelina and Brad’s divorce (something I never thought I’d do) but rather, my thoughts now gravitated toward more important issues like who, if anyone, was in charge of sanitizing the yellow sticks that separated my groceries from the person in front of and behind me.
Stoic, but with a Christian smile, I’d politely wait six feet away, while scrutinizing the almost certainly contaminated cashier as she rang up each item. I stared in silent horror as the bag-boy fondled every product he bagged. And don’t even get me started on the credit card keypad, no doubt teaming with the dreaded virus.
With a creepy-crawly feeling under my clothes, as though I had just escaped an ant farm, I squinted my way from the store to my car, blinded by the intense Florida sunshine. I’d resist the urge to shield my eyes, scratch my nose, or put on the sunglasses hanging from my T-shirt collar, for fear I had inadvertently touched the same can of peas some Corona Mary had handled and thoughtlessly placed back on the shelf.
I was addicted to the daily briefings on the tube. I was well aware of the charts and graphs that showed extreme heat kills the virus. So after opening the car door with my foot, I’d sit in my oven-like vehicle and bake for a full two minutes, confident that the same leather griddle that was searing my backside (literally and audibly) was also roasting any bugs attempting to hitch a ride.
As I sat there, slow-roasting, I’d begin the over-kill process of lathering-up every square inch of exposed skin with the contents from my tackle-box of antiseptics and PPE paraphernalia, painstakingly sterilizing each plastic grocery sack and its contents, the steering wheel, gear shift and the legs of my sunglasses, before digging into my pocket for my keys, which I then dipped in a mason jar of isopropyl alcohol, all the while thanking God for Joseph Lister.
It was during one of these routine disinfecting sessions that I had a Jerry McGuire moment. You know, where he had an epiphany and wrote the twenty-page memo that got him fired. Well, my revelation was much shorter, yet it, too, will probably get me fired, or at least banned from civilized society. My epiphany was simply this: Jesus wouldn’t wear a mask. He didn’t place his faith in Chlorox wipes. He didn’t trust in Purell or have a panic attack when his bottle of was getting low. Jesus was thronged by all sorts of contagious folks every day. (lepers!) And He healed them all with a touch of his gloveless hand. He had no fear of disease. Why should Christians?
But, blurting that out at our coffee clutch was met with, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord your God.” You’d have thought I was suggesting kicking a beehive, poking a sleeping grizzly, tugging on Superman’s cape, or throwing myself off the pinnacle of the temple and expecting the angels to bear me up. No, I was simply suggesting we believe the Bible.
The Bible is full of miraculous stories of deliverance and divine protection. Daniel in the lion’s den; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace; and David and Goliath just to name a few. These aren’t a collection of Mother Goose-type fairy tales. It’s the book we base our eternal existence on. The time has come for believers in Christ to analyze what we really believe. And, if applicable, own up to our unbelief. Then change it!
Make no mistake, we are at war. Not just because of the Coronavirus, but because Satan is the god (little g) of this world. Corona is just one attack of the enemy; there will surely be more waves after this has passed. The church must get serious and intimately familiar with the spiritual armor and weaponry to which we have access. The helmet of Salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, whereby we are able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one, and the Sword of the Spirit, AKA the Word of God.
What good is a soldier that goes to battle without his rifle, stays hunkered down in his foxhole, runs from the battle, or rolls over and gives up the ghost whenever the enemy attacks? Jesus overcame the devil’s temptation with “It is written.” In The Book of Revelation, believers overcame the devil “by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.” Problem is, most of us wait until we find ourselves in life-threatening situations before we start fumbling with our armor and trying out the sword. Often, it’s too little, too late.
Oh, I hear what you’re thinking. Stay away from that guy, he doesn’t wash his hands! So, before y’all stone me, (from a safe distance, of course) call me a science denier, turn me in to the Fauci brown shirts and have me placed in a FEMA camp, I want everyone to know that I will conform to the social norms (for your sake.) But I will also continue to grow stronger, and more resistant, as I inoculate myself daily with spiritual PPE, like Psalm 91. “No plague will come neigh my dwelling.” “A thousand shall fall at my side and ten thousand at my right hand, but it shall not come neigh me.” Or the encouragement of Isaiah, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” And the promises of Jesus Himself, who said, Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
I fully expect the folks at Google and Facebook to lose their minds over this, but if you’re a Christian, and have an issue with my position, if you’ve reasoned away God’s promises and his provision and replaced them with earthly (devilish) wisdom, perhaps you, too, should reevaluate just what you’re believing.
May I remind you, that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.”
God bless, MR