FF Chong—London, UK
If there is to be a reckoning over the second coming of Christ and the urgency to get ourselves prepared, it has been spotlighted by the coronavirus pandemic. As this crisis unfolds, the world seems to be at a loss on how to deal with the situation. Many countries have placed their cities in lockdown at some point and enforced stringent social distancing rules to suppress the spread of the virus. Once vibrant cities have ground to an abrupt halt.
One major impact of the pandemic is on mental health. For many people, the risk of catching the disease has brought feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear. It has led to them limiting their interactions with others and to extreme behavior such as panic buying. Over time, we have also seen the effects on the economy, with businesses closing down due to inactivity. It seems that no aspect of human life has escaped unscathed, and who knows what the future holds?
An Honest Assessment
As the world grapples with the pandemic and its aftermath, it is a good time to review our relationship with God. While we cannot escape from this difficult situation, we can learn the lessons that God has given to us. The Bible assures us that our heavenly Father, the Most High God, cares for us, and therefore we do not need to be afraid of what is happening (Mt 24:6; Jn 14:27).
Our Relationship with God
When considering our relationship with God, we also need to reflect on our state of mind. For the people of the world, to experience fear amid a calamity is natural. But what about us? For Christians, the world will always be a hostile place that poses constant challenges to our faith. And now, in these extraordinary times, we face additional pressures. How we are feeling is a good barometer of the state of our faith and whether we need to strengthen our relationship with God.
However, strengthening our faith will be hard if our relationship with God is strained. This may be the case if we did not work on our spirituality during times of peace, or if we focused our attention on matters of the world. Nevertheless, it is not too late to turn our focus back onto our faith and to consider how best we can mend our relationship with God. Once reconciled with God, we will have more courage to face the world and the power to resist its allure. God’s peace shall then replace fear and begin ruling in our hearts (Col 3:15).
Spending Time with God
Living in a fast-paced world means we often have to juggle many things. We could feel exhausted from, say, having to earn a living or pursuing our academic studies. We may find that we have little time left for God—to attend church services or for spiritual cultivation—with the result that our faith suffers. This, in turn, will negatively affect our ability to serve the Lord. Trying to keep our faith afloat against the strong tide of the world can feel impossible.
The lockdown has forced all of us to cease our regular routines and confined us to our homes. This can lead to feelings of boredom, causing us to look for ways to pass the time. If we are not careful, we may be tempted to while away the hours by watching TV dramas and movies, or by surfing the internet mindlessly. The latter could lead us to stray onto websites that go against the beliefs of the church. We must take stock of the habits we have developed during this lockdown period, and to remove those that are not helpful. We must resolve to redeem the time and draw closer to God (Col 4:5; Eph 5:16).
The pandemic reminds us that our life is in the hands of God. As His children, we must spend the time we have on things that relate to God; nothing should get in the way of our worship, which the Bible says is the whole duty of man (Eccl 12:13). It means grasping hold of every opportunity to attend online services, kneeling before Him in prayer, and searching into the word of God so that we know in Whom we have believed. In this way, we can strengthen our heart of worship, which will stand us in good stead even after the pandemic is over.
Fostering a Good Relationship with Family
Before the lockdown, some of us might not have had time for our family, giving priority to other matters. This may have led to an emotional distance between family members—even when living under the same roof. As a result, we may not be aware of each other’s spiritual state, or we may become indifferent when family members stray from God.
The lockdown has brought family members together physically, creating the opportunity for us to become reacquainted with each other. Through caring communication, we can start making an effort to understand the spiritual condition of our family members, and willingly help each other. Also, through regular family worship, we can rebuild our bond of faith in Christ and ensure that it will remain strong.
Serving God in this Perilous Time
The lockdown has removed our freedom of movement. The way we do things during lockdown is entirely different from how we did things before. This includes how we worship God. Our ability to hold church services, to gather in members’ homes for Bible studies, and to do pastoral visits has been put on hold. But where there is a will, there is a way. Technology and social media have enabled us to bridge the social distancing gap. Indeed, many of us can take part in church activities online such as daily Bible studies with other members from around the world. Technology has also enabled us to send e-invites to friends and relatives to join online evangelistic services. This lockdown period is truly an excellent time to rekindle our fire of evangelism on an individual and collective level. It is hoped that this fervor can continue and that it will lead to more evangelistic activity after the pandemic.
Being Vigilant Against the Unseen Spiritual Pandemic
While we are vigilant to reduce the risk to our physical well-being during this pandemic, we need to be aware that Satan has engineered a spiritual virus, devised in the synagogue of Satan (cf. Rev 2:9; 2:13). Unseen and barely noticed, it is capable of inflicting widespread damage to the church globally. The virus thrives on the imperfection of church leaders and believers, leading people to doubt the trueness of the church and to rebel against God openly.
This situation requires us to take action to correct based on the principles of the Bible so that we can protect the members. As a church, we must all come before God to repent of our wrongdoings, particularly our unfaithfulness towards God and His word (cf. Dan 9:1–19). We must put away all human suppositions, return to God, and resolve to follow only what the Bible teaches. Once we mend our broken relationship with God, we will find that power will be restored to the church and her leaders. With the abidance of the Lord, the church shall defeat the heretics.
The church has an obligation to the believers: to remind them of the Bible’s teachings relating to church organization and the Ten Articles of Faith, making sure we reach every age group. We need to embrace the precious doctrines with humility, honesty, and willingness. The workers of the church should encourage the brethren to hold fast to the pattern of sound words that God has given to the church through the Holy Spirit. With this steadfastness, God will unleash the power of His word to pull down strongholds and to cast down arguments (2 Cor 10:4–5).
It is time for us to wake up from our slumber, to see that a plethora of demonic weapons surrounds the true church. They include materials posted on social media, with articles targeted to poison and corrupt the believers’ simplicity of faith. Faced with this situation, the church must address the issue of members not knowing the basic beliefs of the church and their susceptibility to deception. The church should make members aware of the proliferation of websites and social media accounts set up by heretics and ex-workers. She should advise members only to read materials from official church websites and to avoid being curious about other sites that have the potential to inflict spiritual harm.
The current COVID-19 pandemic serves as a stern warning to us. We have been taking things for granted for too long. We must quickly rectify our lifestyle if we are to improve spiritually, through serious prayers and confession of our wrongs before God. When God is our main focus, the church will be energized to carry out His great commission to preach the gospel readily. When God’s abiding presence is felt in the church, it is natural for us to keep a check on one another’s faith. Searching the word of God and praying will be the norm—an essential part of life for every family.
The detrimental effects of the coronavirus have also brought to light the devastation caused by the spiritual pestilence created by the synagogue of Satan. The church must avoid the risk of infection by putting measures in place—biblically stringent measures which amount to nothing less than a complete severance from the evil being disseminated. We must immunize the church through the process of re-teaching the basic beliefs to every believer and every worker, with unceasing prayers for God’s divine intervention to save the church.