We may be sequestered, but as we emerge and show our faces in public, the gospel is on trial.
Hidden during this pandemic is another virus, one affecting our church communities, countries, and the world. It doesn’t raise the body temperature or cause shortness of breath; it doesn’t diminish one’s ability to taste or smell. It can’t be detected by a nasal swab or discovered by taking one’s temperature. Neither can one be cured from it by therapeutic drugs, resuscitated from its takeover by a ventilator, or protected from it by a vaccine.
This virus moves stealthily through our personal and community systems, not only in times of crises, but even in the best of times. In certain conditions, it can even be considered not only as normal and natural, but as desirable.
And what is that virus? Self-interest.
Not surprisingly, in times of public fright, when we are unnerved by crisis, overwrought by fear, and frozen by anxiety, “me first” becomes our deafening mantra. Neighbors say it. Political leaders say it. And, in an understandable reflex, I say it too.
Self-interest is a potent cocktail of personal, familial, corporate, and national propensities. It’s an obvious human instinct, be it an adult hoarding toilet paper, a politician denying export of virus-related therapies and equipment, or a pastor proudly defying their government’s request to not hold public services.
“Me first” began when we were infants. Our overwhelming instinct was about self: comfort, warmth, food, attention. As we grow through childhood and then adolescence, we should come to a point in life when our personal needs, interests, and comforts are replaced by an otherness, an ability to see that life is not just about ourselves.
It is test time
Pastors, let us be under no illusion: during this …