Pandemic Paranoia

Pandemic Paranoia

I am not here today to criticize the decisions of our government leaders. My concern is not with politics or the affairs of this world, but rather my concern is with the church – with her health, her state of mind, her well-being, and her fitness to be the bride of Christ.

I am concerned about what seems to be a loss – or rather a giving up of hope and giving into paranoia. Here are the things I have heard this week:

1. President Trump is responsible for the Corona virus.

2. This financial meltdown will spiral completely out of control, crash our economy, and spell the end of the US as we know it.

3. The end is almost here.

People are in a panic about the future—something they cannot control or predict. They are afraid of dying and it has created a pandemic of paranoia, greater and more destructive than the Coronavirus.

Instead of listening to the media, give thanks in all circumstances and count your blessings. Are you getting gas in your cars and heat in your house? Do you have money in the bank and people around who love you? Do you have a roof over your head, blankets to keep you warm, and a doctor to help you stay healthy? Do you have food to eat? Then as of right now – despite what is happening around you – you are among the most privileged, the most blessed, and the most secure people who have ever lived on this planet.

Could that change at any time? Sure. Nothing is guaranteed. Are there things out there that are cause for concern? Of course! But we are to live in the circumstances where God has placed us, with faith in Him, not with worry, fear, and paranoia about the future.

John 11:7-10 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

Jesus reminds us that God has apportioned each of us a certain number of hours to live. While those hours remain, we are to busy ourselves, not with fearful predictions and forecasts, not with doom and gloom, not with anxiously tracking every move of the stock market or the Coronavirus, or listening to conspiracy stories about our government leaders, but with the work God has given us to do, which is to go and make disciples. We are to work while we still have time!

The inevitable fact is that one day, time on this earth for us will run out like it did for Jesus. Jesus walked back into danger simply because He knew He walked in God’s will and by God’s light. As long as He was on this earth, He would go where He was needed and do what He had been sent to do.

At the time of Jesus, Jerusalem was under the dictatorship of Rome, and yet there is not one single recorded discourse where Jesus complains about the Roman Empire. Some terrible things were happening because of the government and things were about to get a whole lot worse. But Jesus stayed on message, which was the availability of the Kingdom of God to ordinary people like you and me.

Jesus knew that the Father was in charge of His life. He said in John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Jesus walked in that knowledge all the way back to Judea to raise Lazarus from the dead. That is the faith we are to walk in, too.

Do you know what concerns me more than our economic crisis, and more than the Coronavirus? What concerns me WAY more than these things is that so many in the church are committing sin and giving into fear and suspicion and paranoia, which are not from God. They are acting like unbelievers and the rest of the world.

Christians are to be defined by our hope, by our belief that nothing – absolutely nothing – will ever happen to us that God will not use ultimately for His good purpose.

Let me ask you something. What damage would it do to your soul if you exchanged your fear for unbridled faith? Would it diminish your Christian testimony if you chose to believe that everywhere, in every circumstance, throughout every trial and difficulty of life, your God is mighty to save? Of course not! It would enhance your testimony, if you truly believed it!

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Through Jesus we have gained access to God by faith into this grace in which we stand. When do we stand in this grace? RIGHT NOW! We have access to God NOW! Furthermore, we rejoice right now. In what? OUR SUFFERINGS! Why do we rejoice in this? We have HOPE and God’s LOVE through the Holy Spirit who abides in us! If you don’t have hope, love, joy, and peace right now, you are not filled with the Holy Spirit, but with a spirit of fear!

The doom, gloom, fear, pessimism, and paranoia are not from God. And if they are not from God, then we should distance ourselves from them as far as possible. It does us no good to quarantine ourselves and listen to the fear broadcast on media all day long.

I am encouraged that more people are talking about praying for God to heal us. But what bothers me is that very few are reminding us of the requirement to repent before God will heal our land. I hear fear and worldly sorrow, but I don’t hear anyone repenting!

2 Chronicles 7:13-14 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or 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.

Christians, we have no business peddling fear, doom and gloom. Our business is calling people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. But first, we must humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways—which includes fear, paranoia, unbelief, and all sin. Then God will hear our prayers, forgive our sin, and heal our land.

Our nation has rejected God and His Word. We kill the unborn, flaunt homosexuality and sexual immorality, encourage greed, and seek power over others. Unless we repent, this virus is just the first of many plagues to come. Jesus gave us prophecy to show us that that politics, diseases, and nations and their plans have no authority over Him.

Psalm 2:1-4 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.

The most powerful people on earth – the President of the United States and the presidents of all the other nations – possess power to take life, to bring death and misery and destruction and mayhem. But God alone possesses the power to GIVE life! There is no power that is greater than God’s power to give life.

Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

This pandemic of Coronavirus and paranoia are not eternal. The life we are so afraid of losing is not really the life that matters anyway.

John 17:3 Now this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

If you know Jesus and are living to serve Him, then you already have eternal life. You don’t have to wait until you die to receive it. The life Jesus offers is full of peace and joy that will never end! One day, we will close our eyes in death and awake the next instant in the Kingdom of our Father. THAT is who we are. THAT is our identity. Live in that identity and in freedom—not in fear and paranoia!

Colossians 3:1-4 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

This is our life in Christ and it is beyond all harm. In Christ, we continue to live even though this earthly body dies. Jesus asked, “Do you believe this?” (John 11:26) If so, you should be filled with hope, peace, and joy!

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

The Gospel is a message of hope. Yes, terrible things happen in this world. And yes, God has told us that terrible things will happen in the last days. But we do not know when that will be, and even if we did, we stand RIGHT NOW in God’s glorious grace – God is sufficient RIGHT NOW for every need! And followers of Jesus are to be known as people of infinite hope.

Therefore, be willing to give up this earthly life in service to Jesus, who has given us eternal life. That is what the apostles and first century believers did.

Philippians 2:14-18 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Let us be breaths of fresh air and shining lights in this squalid and polluted society. Whatever you do or say, let it testify to the life-giving Message of Jesus Christ to this world with a paranoia about death.

If you have immune deficiencies or have been exposed to any virus, stay home, but instead of being paralyzed by fear, make phone calls, encourage one another, and pray for one another on the phone. This unselfish act of quarantine, done in obedience to God, lets the healthy continue to work and gather for worship.

Leviticus 13:46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.

Jesus came to set us free from all this paranoia. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be born again of the Spirit into the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God, we possess eternal life, peace, joy, love, contentment, and rest.

John 3:5-8 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Jesus came to give us hope. Therefore, believe Jesus. He is the Son of God who atoned for our sin on the cross. He took our punishment so we could be forgiven and restored to an intimate relationship with the Father. He rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and the Father sent the Holy Spirit to be in us and to conform us to the image of Jesus. That is our hope, for those who die to this life and are born again of the Spirit of God.

If that is your desire, repent of your sin—of being your own lord. Publicly confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and make Him your Lord by following Him in baptism and obeying His Word. You will be raised with a new life, born of the Holy Spirit, who will lead you into all truth and give you grace to follow Jesus. You will have the peace of God while you walk obediently with Him and trust Him.