Well, here we are in the middle of another month of this long COVID season. I was just on the phone the other day with a couple to wish the husband – they are a fine couple – a “Happy Birthday!” When I asked them how they were doing, the wife said with a little laugh, “We are just so darn sick of all of this,” and then she added, “but so are we all, right?” I replied, “You’re right, Vicky. You are absolutely right.”
But as we’ve seen in the news, it’s been very difficult to keep our COVID discipline up due to fatigue. Complicating matters is the sense out there that a Christian should avoid precautions to show that they really believe in God and are not afraid. Now we all know that throughout God’s Word God shows us, through stories and statements, that, as John wrote in his first letter, the opposite of love is fear. But fear takes many forms. It is not only cowardice. A mass killer is often motivated by fear first. Men (and a few women) who have committed mass murders – and many of them end up killing themselves as well – are suicidal before they are homicidal; they want to take others down with them. Fear of being seen as a loser…fear of losing a relationship…fear of facing a difficult future often motivate human beings to act out in some way that is not at all healthy.
We Christians are called not to fear, but within a certain very important context. That context is: what does God want me to do this moment…and the next moment…and the next, and so on. What God wants me to do may be interpreted by others as fearful, when at that moment what God wants me to be is kind to others by not risking spreading an illness to them. What God wants me to be may be interpreted by others as too cautious, when at that moment God wants me to be patient and wait for a better time to act or talk with that other person. What God wants me to be may be interpreted as too clear in expressing a concern to another person, when at that moment what God wants me to be is transparent so that the discussion that follows will not be plagued by hidden agendas. The most important way to not be fearful not only in COVID times but at all times, is not to be afraid to follow the Spirit’s dictates – filled as those wonderful divine dictates are with biblical wisdom and love!
What I am trying to say is that biblical courage is not the same as fleshly, sinful, rash courage. Biblical courage takes different forms. Biblical courage, for one thing, is to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. If God has given you and me a mind to think through things and gather facts and use them to do the right thing and avoid the rash, sometimes show-offey kind of courage then all to the good!
We may find ourselves at this COVID time backing away from certain situations in order not to spread not just this disease, but later other diseases. Unfortunately, one thing Christians say in order to criticize another Christian is to say that someone is not a true Christian if they backed away or went away or fled a certain situation; but many do not know how often we find righteous people fleeing in both the Old and New Testaments!
Let’s start with Jacob. After prevailing over his brother Esau in the pursuit of the coveted blessing from God, Jacob was urged by his mother to flee for his life, which became a way that Jacob and his son Judah were able to eventually bring the promises of God to us all through their descendant Jesus. Moses’ mother Jochabed hid baby Moses from Pharaoh in order to escape execution; later, through Moses the law of God was revealed. God provided, in the book of Numbers, cities of refuge for accused murderers to flee to safety until their case could be heard. David fled King Saul many times and was a fugitive for 15 years. Jonathan, Saul’s son, successfully urged David to hide from Saul. David’s prayer to God in Psalm 17 was, “Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.” In Proverbs 22:3 we read this proverb, “A prudent one foresees evil, and hides himself; but the simpleton passes on, and is punished.”
When we go to the New Testament, we find other examples of fleeing as a way to follow God’s will. The angel warned Joseph, which led to Joseph and Mary taking their infant son and fleeing to Egypt for several years. Jesus in a sense “flees” (or avoids being arrested and killed, for it was not His time yet) when, in John 11:54, we read that “Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from [Bethany, near Jerusalem] to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.” Jesus warned the disciples to flee when their preaching was resisted. He said to them, in Matthew 10:23, “But when they persecute you in this city, flee to another city.” Church leaders knew when to flee; in Acts 14:6-7 we read, “And when the attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews…to mistreat them, the apostles learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe…and to the surrounding country. And there they continued to proclaim the good news.”
As you can see, God’s Spirit counsels us in different ways to handle different situations. When the apostles fled from one place, they continued preaching in another. The key is not to let earthly passions enflame us into behavior that does not reflect the God of Love and Peace. To sum it up – as our “Boost from the Bible for today, “ we read what Paul wrote in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
The original word for “peace” in the Old Testament – in Hebrew – is “Shalom.” If we were to look in the dictionary for the full meaning of the word “Shalom,” we see that it means more than the lack of violence; Shalom means wholeness, a sense of completeness and soundness…health, safety and prosperity. You and I as Christians are called to do all we can for God, and not live in fear – in His eyes, not others. Others may misinterpret what we do, but so long as we do things at God’s command in service to other people, we will “leave peaceably with all,” and we will have fulfilled our calling. Amen!
Go to kogcarmel.org and find King of Glory’s Sunday worship services as well – live at 10 am every Sunday. Archived worship services and boosts may be found at the bottom of King of Glory’s home page.