No one is keen with our wisdom, or our knowledge or to buy a book and read the details of how to build a church of 20,000 followers in 2 years. People want to know what is going on.
The Covid19 pandemic started in early 2020, has been a true test of faith among all men in this world. And Christians are not spared from this adversity. Initially there were relentless claims that the pandemic is evil or even demonic. God cannot bring forth such bad things to befall on the people he loved. It is not possible. That’s how the calls started.
Weeks later at the level of society, public acceptance began to sink into our lives, the fact that the pandemic could likely be here to stay for much longer than we thought. The claims among churches across our nation and the rest of the world, that the people should have faith in their God and God will defeat such great evil disrupting their lives and that Christians are told to pray and believe, this call soon died down.
But the reaction of pastors, priests and leaders to this pandemic left many baffled. Or at least I myself alone am baffled. It opened my eyes to the fact that words coming from the pulpit of supposedly godly leaders tend to be reactive to situational changes. In the month of March 2020, there’s hardly any preachers taking the stand to warn believers that this pandemic could possibly be a plague from God. But today, the narrative has altered itself significantly and increasing number of church leaders are themselves beginning to bias towards a more difficult view point. It seems quite a few are starting to believe what we are experiencing today is comparable to the proportions of biblical plagues afflicting mankind since thousands of years ago. Or perhaps this group of thinkers are wrong again?
Just a brief introduction to non-Christians reading this; biblical plagues are forms of naturally occurring disasters that the Bible describes as punishment to the people who disobeyed or sinned against God. It happened numerous times across various timelines, from the plagues of Egypt to the destruction of the two temples resulting in the scattering of the Hebrews. Plagues include all kinds of disasters like pestilences, diseases, appearance of massive swarms of locusts, hailstorms, meteor showers, cosmic disturbances, famine, wars and other types of calamities.
To the Bible believers, plagues are therefore curses from God, events taking place to awaken the nations, that something we do is not right and God is punishing us with calamities to make us turn away from our wrongdoings. Christians who understood the doctrine of depravity, recognized this as a call for repentance.
There are also those who believed in another doctrine; that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of many, and today we get to live freely and unconditionally. You will go to heaven simply by believing alone, all your sins; past, present and future are forgiven. One could easily identify this group of believers; that the teachings of repentance is usually silent among them, replaced with just plain vanilla faith and belief alone will do and is sufficient. You don’t have to do anything. It is so simple and God has made it simple for you and me. No repentance required.
This letter is not about the factional doctrines but to point out to the fact that the pandemic (or plague if you believe it is one) is affecting the lives everyone, whether you are a catholic or a protestant, whether you believe in repentance or otherwise, or you are a non-Christian from other faiths or even if you are an atheist. No one is excluded from the new rules of engagement. No one is outside the new normal. The bigger issue is this; could this simply be a pandemic that will soon go away if sufficient people come together in prayer or is this a form of plague from God, like those recorded in history since before the medieval times? The truth is this, the pandemic (or plague) is already challenging our beliefs in our respective doctrines.
The churches themselves appeared to have opened up a can of worms. With almost everyone bringing their services online, the respective teachings from Sunday messages to sermons and all, are now recorded and are easily accessible. Today, a believer has the option of not just “attending” one but several churches at one time. They are spoil for choices that they could even attend churches from a foreign country done in a foreign language. The power of the Internet, say that again. And with this power, people from all over the world gets to see who are these churches, what they do and what exactly they are.
Christians and non-Christians alike are searching for answers. Everyone wants to know the truth. Everyone wants to know exactly what is happening. Everyone knows information from politicians is not entirely reliable. Everyone is searching and searching. This is the crowd that the churches are facing today. People want answers and the truth. No one is keen with our wisdom, or our knowledge or to buy a book and read the details of how to build a church of 20,000 followers in 2 years. People want to know what is going on.
Out of this chaos, there are also those discernible facts; that people’ livelihood are affected, jobs are lost by the many, families are finding it hard to put food on the table and so on and so forth. If God is a good God, how is it even possible for this to happen at such an unthinkable scale?
As evil as it may appear to be, even the devil himself with all the powers given him, could not have been capable of pulling off a global pandemic, causing millions of infection of Covid19, from nations to nations, and across towns to towns. If you examine the writings in the Bible more carefully, the devil is called the father of liars and that’s all he is capable of doing. What he does is he sets his lies into motion and let it spread from one person to another like wildfire. Or like a pandemic. But there’s a big difference between a lie and a virus. A lie kills when one believes in it and starts doing things to nurture it. Whereas a virus by itself is capable of killing, without you doing anything to it.
The Pandora box is now opened. In one way or another, church leaders, pastors, priests and elders shall soon find themselves in a spot to answer these trying questions that the people are going to seek and ask repeatedly. No one wants to know at which chapter our Bible reading group is now at. No one wants to know or hear about our life stories, or how we are getting by these difficult times. No one wants to hear about how we jog five times a day while observing social distancing, to stay fit and healthy for God. No one wants to know how our churches are doing, whether we are financially okay or falling apart. No one wants to know what the politicians are already publicly telling to us every day via the media. But everybody wants to know the truth and what God is doing in all of this.
And in its last book, the Bible clearly hints that six out of seven churches are unlikely to be able to survive what is coming. If you disagree, then please read your Bible. Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. No apologies offered for being bluntly factual. The challenge is coming head on, whether you like it or not.