Sometimes we don’t realize that an event was historically significant until afterwards. But sometimes history happens right in front of us, and we recognize its gravity.
I remember watching the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. We switched on the TV after the first plane crashed into the first building. We saw the second plane crashing into the other tower live. We didn’t know what all the implications would be, but we knew the world would be changed by it.
This global season of COVID-19 is like that. We know it’s a historical event, a monumental season. We don’t know what the world will look like afterward, but we know things will change.
But what will they change into? What will this season be known for?
While it’s impossible to perfectly predict how all the world will change because of this, I pray that one thing people will see when they look back is that the Church lived out its mission to make disciples and represent Christ to the world.
Yes, it’s a time of great unrest and anxiety. And yes, we need to be wise in not exposing ourselves unnecessarily. (It’s missional to stay home and contribute to flattening the curve.) But it’s also a time for Christians to shine like lights in a world that needs it.
Crisis, danger, and risk often have the effect of causing us to think of ourselves and not others. This is a natural human response when we are personally threatened. In the Bible, Queen Esther did this when her people were threatened with genocide. Her cousin, Mordecai, asked her for help and she said she couldn’t approach the king without risking her life. Basically, she made an excuse. A reasonable one, but an excuse nevertheless.
We see Mordecai’s response in Esther 4:13,14: “Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, ‘Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’”
Esther was in a position of privilege and she was afraid to risk it. But Mordecai pointed out that even with her position, she had no assurance of being saved. Also, God had other ways of saving the Jews. However, Mordecai posed an intriguing question: What if Esther’s status as queen wasn’t meant to be protected, but was meant to protect others? What if her privilege wasn’t meant to be indulged nor renounced, but to be leveraged? What if this was the moment that all the years of preparation and anticipation had been leading toward?
This is what COVID-19 is for followers of Jesus. Yes, it’s a pandemic. Yes, it’s highlighting societal and political ills. Yes, it has serious economic ramifications. But it’s also what our faith has been preparing us for. We’ve heard and shared so many messages—reminders to trust God, to have hope in dark times, to remember the least in our society, to receive comfort from God so we can comfort others, and so much more. Now is the time that those messages are most needed by us and others.
In a recent online meeting, Pastor Kevin York, Vice President of Every Nation, said, “In the eternal light of things, we’ll always have on our resumé that we were Christian leaders in the time of the fastest spreading pandemic and economic recession in world history up to this point. What are we going to do about it?” His statement gripped my heart as I pondered it.
Whether you’re a student, a volunteer, or a campus missionary; whether you’re stuck at home or you’re able to move around; whether you have a massive online platform or your mission field is “only” the people in your home, I pray you realize that God is calling us to be missional for such a time as this.
This doesn’t mean pretending that we don’t have needs, problems, or anxieties. God never asks us to do that. In fact, He wants to minister to us with His love, joy, and peace. Then, as we receive God’s grace, we show it to other people.
This is a historic moment. A historic time to be alive, a historic time to be a Christian leader—a historic time to which you have been called.