Those in the early church faced two life-threatening epidemics within its first 200 years.
Today, most of us sit confined in our homes, unsure of how widespread the COVID-19 virus is in our community, our country, or the world. I frequently open the app counting the global statistics and try to understand what life is like in places where the virus is creating unimaginable havoc.
Some have sarcastically dismissed the virus as being a political foil. Now such silliness is sobered by reality. Others try to spiritualize this pandemic, as if it is God’s punishment for our erring ways.
Today’s “New Normal”
We aren’t the first Christians to face a global pandemic. In fact, now is a good time to learn how we might deal with this world-being-shut-down crisis. Those in the early church faced two life-threatening epidemics within its first 200 years. The first was in 165 A.D., in which up to one-third of Roman citizens died, and the second was in 251 A.D.
My point in noting these early Christians is for one basic reason: that we will choose hope over confusion, humility over arrogance, empathy over self-interest, faith over fear. So that in recognizing our frail humanity, we will welcome the pervading presence and life of the Spirit to assert God’s will over our own distractions, providing us with a different way in which we view and make sense of what for too many is an existential reality.
Instead, let us see today and tomorrow through the prism of God’s grace and love.
Learning from the Early Christians
In these second and third-century catastrophes, Christians, who were then just a very small minority, exerted extraordinary impact on their societies. Facing headwinds of human devastation, they wasted no time, nor spared personal effort, to care for those struck down by those deadly …