In the past week, people have been shocked to learn that their church, in compliance with local guidelines, is closed until the COVID-19 contagion crisis ends. In response, there may be alternative worship options online, but folks might ask, ‘What else should I be doing? How can I help?’
As comforting and welcoming as your church normally is, the reality is our faith is not tied to a building or location. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples…”, not “Go build a sanctuary and install soft seats.” The church of Jesus Christ is not about nice rooms, it’s about people.
But self-isolation and distancing from others came upon us too quickly to be prepared. People were not ready to hunker down in their respective homes for an undetermined length of time, hence the panic-buying of toilet paper.
And, without warning, we found ourselves isolated. What’s a follower of Christ to do?
The New Testament was written during uncertain and tumultuous times. The Roman Empire ruled a crazy quilt of races, ethnicities, and diverse tongues with brute force. Dissent meant death. Epidemics were rampant. Life was short, dirty, and violent.
Yet, the witness and conduct of Christians was to be counter to the chaotic world in which ancient people existed. ‘Return good for evil.’ ‘Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar.’ ‘Love others above yourself.’ Easy verses to read, but hard to honor and apply to our daily life.
How do we, by ourselves, show love to our community?
Today, we have remarkable communication tools. In 1900, your choice was to write a letter. Today, we are surrounded by mobile phones, Wi-Fi, the world-wide web, texting, and one-day shipping. Our choices are overwhelming.
Use this time of isolation to reach out to people. Go ahead, call your friends to simply talk to them and be a calming and encouraging voice. You might even get the opportunity to pray for them and offer comfort. Re-introduce yourself to the art of listening to others. The human voice can be a wonderful balm in troubled times.
Encourage Our Youth
For many children, no school means no adult supervision and no food. Most single parents cannot afford to be home when their children are not in school. And a surprising number of children left at home, lack proper nutrition, or the skills to prepare anything more complex than a PB&J. In our community, there are welcoming neighborhood places for kids. They could use your active or supporting assistance with meals, activities and simple one-on-one time. These kids already have challenging lives, let’s help make this trying time a memorable time.
Fresh Air is Good for You
Worried about viral exposure? Call up a neighbor and go for a walk around the block or at a local park. It’s good exercise and may help you build a stronger and more encouraging friendship.
Support Your Community
Buy carry-out food from a local restaurant. Order and pay for meal delivery to a shut-in senior citizen. Buy a new or used book to read from a local bookstore (those special places still exist). Buy something from a special grocery store or bakery. There are probably dozens of locally owned shops near your home. While you’re out, consider donating blood (supplies are way down right now).
Now is not the time to be a complainer. Yes, lines are extra long for groceries. It’s difficult to get routine care with doctors and healthcare providers. Your favorite products may not be in stock. There’s no denying, regular life is on hold right now. But look around you, people are frightened. The person in line ahead of you may have had their work hours reduced or been laid off. For believers, this is an opportunity to let our lights shine in a harsh world. If Peter and Silas could sing in a dark prison after hours of abuse, certainly you can be a blessing to that hurting person in front of you.
If the Apostle Paul could summarize the trials he faced with “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” surely we can ‘play the cards’ we have been dealt with joy and confidence in our faith. In the book of Esther, Mordecai challenged Esther that she had been placed in the King’s palace “for such a time as this.” Isn’t that true for each of us? In this time of uncertainty, we have many opportunities to show compassion, love, and concern.
Let’s not fail our loving Savior in this unique opportunity.
Arvid is Faith Ministries’ Director of Development. He is currently a Faith Church deacon and is on the board of Faith Christian School. He is the Executive Director of Faith Legacy Foundation, Inc. Arvid also sits on two Greater Lafayette Commerce councils along with the Federal Government Committee.