"A Certain Faith in a Shaken World"
March 13, 2020 By Pastor Dave Ryan
How Do We Respond When our World is Shaken?
Our Gospel Faith and Commitment in the Midst of the COVID-19 response
On March 11th, Governor Mike DeWine issued a statement on large group gatherings in the State of Ohio. His statement said that restrictions do not apply to religious gatherings. We appreciate the value the administration places on our rights to gather and the value of churches. We have also sought the counsel of other health professionals, members and other pastors. This morning (March 12th), I had the opportunity to be a part of a conference call with over 300 religious leaders across Ohio and representatives of Governor Dewine’s staff.
We have come to a unified conclusion that it is responsible, loving toward one another and the best Gospel witness to suspend our Sunday on site services and Wednesday gatherings here at the building for the next two weeks, with evaluation beyond that. We will use our Live Stream for Worship on Sunday and other technology platforms to form groups for worship, prayer and teaching. There is more information on our email and our church website.
The last few days have been unsettling as the Coronavirus, more specifically identified as COVID-19 has moved from far away in Asia to Ohio. While the case numbers are still relatively small, the reactions of our leaders has been swift and sweeping to restrain the growth of this virus in our area. We respect the work of elected officials and physicians to protect our population and to bring about a cure for those who are ill. The speed of changes and news is dizzying and probably has not been experienced since September 11, 2001. How are we as followers of Christ and a local church to respond? Do the Scriptures give us direction and hope? Is God’s position still secure and His plan actively at work? We can confidently say yes to each of these questions!
Foundation of our Faith and Times of Trial: Truth and Relationship.
As we consider both practicing our faith and living in our changing culture, it is important to see two essential ingredients to Biblical faith: Biblical truth/doctrine and Practical Relationship both to God and others. Our faith is Word based and founded on established doctrine from God, but it is not just an academic faith to be read and debated. Our faith restores us to relationship with the living God (I Peter 2:21-23) and is practiced in relationship with other believers. Either of these components separated too long from the other brings distortion and harm. We need to receive God’s Word and we need to practice it together, even when our conventional gathering practices are changed!
Biblical Principles in the Face of War, Disaster and Quarantine:
- Faith - We are settled and directed by faith and trust in an Eternal God who is settled on His throne and active in His plan. (Psalm 2; Habakkuk 2:20) Our faith is fed by the Word of God and the Spirit of God, as we apply His Word to our emotions, actions, and obedience. Our faith is fixed on Jesus Christ who endured the Cross and Wrath of God for us, rose from the dead 3 days later and is coming again. We live for the day of His return and to meet Him. Do you know the redemption that is through Jesus Christ alone? Does your faith in Him rule over your heart and life?
Living in this world, fear is a part of the unknown and frailty of our lives, and our goal is not ward off any fears. Instead, God calls us to meet our fears with trust in a greater God. (Psalm 56:3-4)
- Wisdom - (James 1:19-22; Proverbs 9:9-10) Our news cycle is continually refreshing with new information… and we expect it to these days. Something happens and immediately we are posting our thoughts and emotions. However, the hope that our God is eternal, holy and involved in His Creation calls faith to seek to respond with His wisdom. Wisdom resides in God and is most enjoyed the more we align our mind and direction to God’s purposes and plans.
God has also granted knowledge and wisdom to people to use for the good of all those they serve. In the current health crisis, we are thankful for researchers, physicians and medical personnel who are sharing what they have learned for our good. We want to practice good habits in personal hygiene, protection of health for those who are at risk of this virus, wisdom in preventing how this virus can be spread others. The COVID-19 precautions are clearly given. We want to be wise to practice them when we are together for the protection of others, our families and ourselves.
- Compassion - Changes to our ministry increases the need for intentional and courageous compassion toward each other and our neighbors. This is an important time for a shaking and frustrated world to see the love of Christ evidenced for each other and toward our community. We will need to work a little harder to think of ways to connect and encourage each other. Let’s be thinking of creative ways to care for each other, and we also want to be open to come along side of our community to pray and help show the love of Christ.
We will be sharing more ideas as to how we might implement each of these. We invite you to join us online this Sunday at 10:30am. Maybe some will be able to do that with other church family or even invite a friend who does not have a church family.
“God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in trouble….” Psalm 46