This is the second in a two-part series. Click here to read part 1, where I talk about how the very real consequences of COVID-19 have resulted in a search for truth and in a condemnation of misinformation and ‘foolishness’, and how we have, with no external persuasion, become evangelists of the truth, and invite you to compare this with how we approach Christianity.
Think about it. What have we been asked to do more than anything else so far? Apart from “social distancing”, the most common instruction is “wash your hands”! Who’d have thought that this would be the great worldwide phenomenon that would save humanity from extinction? Never again can I, in good conscience, feign indignation to hide my guilt when my parents (or my younger sister, how dare she!) ask me, “Did you wash your hands, Benji?”. “Of course I washed my hands! What am I, like, seventeen years old? I’m an adult now. You don’t have to keep asking me if I washed my hands! Did you wash your hands? Huh? Did you? You know what? Just because you asked, I’m going to wash them again. Again! Are you happy now? Wash your hands, it seems. Like the world will come crashing down if I don’t wash my hands”. Ah, the good old days. But I digress.
I call it “radical hygiene”, because we’ve been asked to go all out with it. Not just “wash your hands”, but “wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds”. And we’re asked to follow up with all sorts of other measures to ensure hygiene. And it makes sense. If the virus transmits how they say it does, then the obvious preventive measure is to keep ourselves clean. And, oh, how seriously do we take it! It is radical, because it involves breaking old habits and creating new ones. It is radical because it involves completely abstaining from certain activities. It is a serious, intentional, and passionate pursuit of hygiene. Too much? Maybe I am laying it on a little too thick, but I just find it fascinating that this is very similar to how we are called to view holiness in our walk as Christians. It is the same logic. Sin is what separates us from God, and we are called to respond with radical holiness. Of course, no amount of soap is going to wash away the stain of our sin – only God makes that change in our lives. However, our “can’t stop, won’t stop” mindset towards sin is at such stark contrast to how we dutifully pursue hygiene during these days, that it makes you wonder. Sure, sin is perhaps a lot more difficult to shake off than some germs and viruses, but what can we say of the effort we really do put in, when we are called to walk blamelessly before the Lord our God?
“For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. “Leviticus 11:44 ESV
All this radical hygienic extremism has resulted in a new mindset among people. Or rather, a new mindfulness. Today, we are busy analysing every little thing we do. We are careful about what we touch, we are careful about who we’re around, we are careful even about what we eat and drink. These previously inconsequential aspects of our lives are now on our minds all of the time. What’s more, we have no idea how long these situations could last, or what the situation will be like tomorrow, which has led to us adopting a lifestyle where we have to intentionally try to be constantly prepared for anything. We stock up on supplies and equipment we need to survive, and we try to make sure that we will be prepared for worst case scenarios. Several people have even gone into a panic, buying up supplies in bulk and clearing out the supermarkets out of fear. Consider how our lifestyles have changed. How our priorities have shifted. The fascinating thing, again, is that no one is a bystander in this! Everyone is involved in their own way. No one is standing aside and watching from the sidelines and not being affected by any of these changes. Is this not what the Bible asks us to do? A renewal of our minds that results in a change in our priorities and an intentional change in our behaviours? There is a duty for every believer – a commission given by Christ himself. And it involves being mindful over every word that proceeds out of our mouths and of every action that we perform no matter how seemingly insignificant. “The Great Commission”, we call it. How great is it to us, really?
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
Beyond our own hygiene, social distancing is viewed as the most important step to “flatten the curve”, as it is called. To slow the spread and prevent this from becoming an unmitigated global disaster. For most people, this is the most annoying part of it all. Everyone is vulnerable to the virus, no one is immune. We could carry the virus for weeks without exhibiting symptoms, so we have no idea who is infected and who isn’t. And so, we are left with the only course of action being to stay away from everybody. There is a very sobering thought plaguing many of us when contemplating the possible outcomes of all of this. Some people in the medical field have also made grave statements about it with candid honesty. What if we do not control the spread? Since everyone is vulnerable, what if everyone got infected? God forbid it from happening, but they talk about worst case scenarios where the medical and health services are utterly overwhelmed and where doctors are finally forced to choose who lives and who dies. The thought itself is enough to give anyone a headache. I was wondering, what if it did go that far, and we came to a point where I and 10 others just like me were brought before a doctor to admit to the only remaining ventilator, and he chose me. What merit can I claim over the others at that point to justify being chosen to live? It gives you pause. The example is far from adequate or accurate, but it should similarly give us pause to know that God has chosen us to know Him and to enjoy Him, through no merit of our own. Because there is, in fact, a virus that has infected everyone on Earth – man, woman and child. A terminal illness with no cure. For no one is righteous, no, not one. But, God.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV
All things considered, perhaps it is a good thing that all our plans are cancelled. What good are our plans anyway? If the situations we find ourselves in today will lead us to re-evaluate our lives and our commitment to the faith we claim to hold on to, is that not a worthy cause to cancel some of our plans? If our introspection would lead us to a genuine search for the truth, and brings us to true repentance and the priceless gift of salvation, is that not better than anything we could have planned to achieve in the same time on our own? If God were to use these circumstances to bring you into the fold and into eternity with Him, how much time of lockdown and quarantine will be too much to give up to that pursuit? This is our hope and our firm foundation, that God is in charge. They say, on account of all the pain and death, that there has never been more proof that God does not exist than there is today. I say, on account of all the pain and death, there has never been more need for a saviour who guarantees our eternal salvation beyond the grave than there is today.
Corona or no Corona, if left to our own devices, we would perish in our sins.