COVID-19’s Random Fatalities Word on the Week 11th April 2020
The church suffered some disruption many years ago. Sadly, few churches are without the evidence that saved sinners are still sinners in their human nature (Romans Chapter 7 verses 24/25). The most evident thing when the disruption died down was our ability at discerning sin – other peoples’ sin!
It was something Jesus uncovered when the crowd wanted his confirmation that their attributing of sin, first to the Galilean worshippers who Pilate had slaughtered and second to the 18 who lost their lives when the tower fell and killed them, was no more than what they deserved. Jesus reply must have rocked them! He steered them away from the sinfulness of others and directed them to their own sins.
The remedy, Jesus said, was to repent. In fact, he said that if we did not repent we would all perish. Perhaps our death would not be by man’s will (Pilate’s) or by a fatal accident (tower) but by the final judgement of God. (St Luke 1 to Chapter 13 verses 5).
COVID-19 is a virus whose random infection may, with good hygiene, be prevented but not eradicated. Sadly, it is terminal for some people. Jesus does not permit us to attribute greater sin to those who died than that which applies to the rest of us.
The global nature of the spread of the virus matches the global spread of the gospel so that the following verses (which applied to Israel) now apply to the church.
When I … send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles Chapter 7 verses 13 to 14). Although God said this in Solomon’s day He was anticipating ‘wicked ways’ down through the avenues of time to our day. That makes the remedy of humility and repentance relevant for today.
It takes the grace of God to produce these qualities. The repentance Jesus looks for comes from a heart that has been turned around and like the disciple Matthew who left his sinful practices to follow Jesus he followed Jesus that day and very other day of his life on earth (St Matthew Chapter 9 verse 9). Matthew joined Peter who wrote of their experiences: –
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1 verses 3 to 7).
By God’s grace may the same be said of us.