Yesterday I explained why I believed that the Church should challenge the current lockdown measures but also why we should comply with them if unsuccessful. A big part of my argument is the priority of Christian witness.
If eschatologically, we are focused on the great gathering of God’s people to come, then yes part of our responsibility is to enjoy mini foretastes of that and portray what will be to a hungry world. However, we have also got the important work of going out and gathering in to do to. This means that we need to be with people, where they are so that we can be a witness to them. Our friends, neighbours, colleagues and family are going to be in lockdown and that’s where we should be too.
My approach to witness is governed by my theology, by my understanding of what the problem is. So here goes.
As Christians we believe that death is both judgement for sin and a deadly enemy. Therefore we are anti-death. Ultimately, we want to say to people that there is no fear in death when we know that Christ has already taken the punishment we deserve. Death does not have the last word because of the Gospel. It is right therefore to show in our actions that we have faith which means that we don’t fear death and indeed are willing to sacrifice our lives for others and for Christ.
However, we also want to show that because Christ came to give life, that we are very much pro-life. We show we are pro-life when we take a stand against abortion and euthanasia. We also show that we are pro-life when we support other activities designed to preserve it such as famine relief and medical aid. I therefore think that our love for each other seen in a valuing of physical life now is part of our witness providing we can give a reason for it.
Therefore, during COVID-19, I am not so paralysed by fear that I will lock myself away. If I should catch the disease and die from it then I have nothing to fear or lose. I will be with my saviour. Yet, at the same time, because life is a good thing, I’ll also work hard to ensure that I don’t put others at risk of death by complying with those measures designed to save life. I will then use opportunities to give a reason for this approach based on the hope we have in Christ, the one who is Lord of life.
Whilst the compulsion to gather for worship is important, equally important is the compulsion to see others gathered in. I don’t want to put anything in the way that will cause them to stumble, except the Cross. If I am seen to act recklessly during a pandemic or only to be concerned for my own rights and privileges then that will be a bad witness which will cause people to stumble.
Let’s enjoy God and glorify him together. Let’s make sure we do that during the pandemic by being a witness to our neighbours.