Spiritual Action Items in Times of Crisis

| April 9, 2020

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.  As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.

All of America is going through a very difficult time.  In the coronavirus, we face an enemy we cannot see, but we can certainly feel its effects.  It has disrupted (maybe destroyed) our daily routines, isolated individuals and families, and changed the way that we communicate with one another.

There is great uncertainty.  No one knows how long this will last or how deep the trench will be.

During this time, some businesses will close and never reopen – and some churches will too. Many people will lose confidence in government – and many will lose faith in God.  They will hear that “God is in control” but ask as Gideon once did: “if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?  And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about?” (Judges 6: 13).

Perhaps worst of all, it feels like there is nothing that we can do, except wait and scan the news for some rays of hope.   “Stay home” may slow the spread of the virus, but it fuels the economic slowdown.  “Wash your hands” sounds preventive, but it does not advance a cure.  “Practice social distancing” is good advice to keep our bodies healthy, but does nothing for our souls.

In a word – what should we be doing?

First Peter 4 is our “action items” list during this crisis.

Peter wrote his letter on the eve of the first great persecution of Christians.  He could see it coming, either through revelation or just by observation.  He wrote to get Christians ready for “the fiery trial which is to try you.” (I Peter 4: 12).  He knew it would pass (he said it would be “a little while” (I Peter 1: 6), but it would be very difficult and would provide an opportunity for Satan to destroy the faith of some (5: 8).

Peter saw such times not as something abnormal or “strange” (4:12), but rather part of the commonality and curse of sin upon the earth, the things that will continue until the coming again of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom.  And so, he starts by reminding us that the kingdom is closer now than ever before and “the end of all things is at hand” (4: 7).

Peter then gives us five things that we should be doing in times of crisis – five “action items.” They will not stop persecution or pandemics, but they will prevent and heal the spiritual casualties that such would otherwise claim.

1. Be Serious In Prayer.

As you build a new daily routine, build in time for prayer.  Pray for people by name, pray that their faith does not fail and that their physical needs are met.  Pray for missionaries, dealing with this crisis on mission fields around the world.  Pray for our nation and those in authority.  Pray for healing in our land, both from the pestilence of this virus, and the pestilence of sin (I Kings 8: 35 – 40).

2. Love one another fervently.

Peter lists this as his most important point.  This time of separation should strengthen the bonds of love between us.  Remember all of the good of the people at your church, and of other Christians.  Think on the things in one another that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4: 8).

3. Be hospitable to one another.

We must not lose connection with one another.  As of this writing, many states are under executive order has limited gatherings, and we are certainly to obey “every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.” (I Peter 2: 13)  This restriction will slow but not stop opportunities for hospitality.  I suspect that gatherings of Christians were very dangerous in Peter’s day, and they likely avoided large group meetings.  But Peter tells them to be hospitable.  We can still open our homes to small groups, or send gifts of fellowship.  Jesus said that it only takes two or three to gather together in His Name, and He will be there in the midst (Matthew 18: 20).

4. Minister your spiritual gift.

Now more than ever, be creative to find and use opportunities for spiritual benefit.  Your spiritual gift is even for the profit of all.  It is of greater value than any government program.  As God has equipped each one, let us minister to each one, to strengthen us altogether (I Corinthians 12: 7).

5. Speak as the oracles of God.

In the structure of the text, this is really part of Point No. 4, but I will mention it as a separate item to make a particular application.  This is a time for words of encouragement, words of comfort, words of exhortation, words of grace from each one.  Supportive words are an effective tool for us to go through this together.

The phrase WWJD is commonly used in Christian circles, as the shorthand of “What would Jesus do?”  The problem is that I can’t do what Jesus can do – and if I could, this entire pandemic would be over.  But I can say what Jesus would say, and so I plan to make WWJS my guide during this time.

If we do these things, the Power of God will flow through them; and by them God will be glorified through Jesus Christ.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay in the Grace of the Lord.

Category: Faith