The COVID-19 virus has impacted people all across the globe in a powerful and devastating way. It has become an “unseen enemy” that spreads its deadly poison by humans passing it to each other unsuspectingly, and its contagious nature has made it virtually impossible to stop – at least until a vaccine is developed.

Back in the day, or perhaps even these days, the COVID-19 virus could be seen as a plague of biblical proportions. It reminds us of the plagues that God laid on Pharaoh when he refused to follow the commands brought to him by Moses. The final plague in that scenario was the death of all first born children in Egypt – including Pharaoh’s young son. Another example of a powerful and devastating plague. 

The Old Testament tells many a story about how God conjures up powerful natural occurrences across the globe in order to disrupt the “normal” ways of life of the people and bring them back to a godly way of life. Remember the flood and Noah’s Ark. But Old Testament times were times before God had come to earth and walked with God’s people. We had not yet met God in the flesh. It was a time that still believed in a god that was more or less like the gods of ancient days – the Roman or Greek gods for instance – in which each god took on some version of human characteristics and personality, and acted out in ways that would either favor (bless) or punish (curse) people according to how close to God they lived their lives. 

Thus, in the story of Noah’s Ark, we learn that God brought about a global flood in order to exterminate the entire population of people on earth, except for Noah and his family, because of the ungodly way that they all were living. God chose, we are told, to punish the people for their behaviors by killing them all in a flood, so that God could start over with Noah’s family and repopulate the earth with righteous people. Is that a god you would believe in?

Well, we see how that worked out! Turns out that people are people – that we live in knowledge of God but consistently stray from God’s ways. Only to return to God again, over and over, as we are led to for our redemption. Truth is, God already knew that about us, but we didn’t. So, when the flood story was told, and eventually put in writing, we described God as we thought we knew God – just as if God was like the ancient gods of old who responded to each whim of thought and behavior with either blessings or curses on our life. Turns out that everything in our life could be explained by this belief in god as a giant marionette that is always pulling the strings of consequences and fate in our lives based on the way we are living. 

This view of God is as false today as it was in the ancient days. We know that because we have met God in human form … and our God is not capricious with emotions and reactive in actions. Indeed, God is only loving, caring, and redeeming. We now know that the consequences and fate that we confront are brought on by ourselves, not by God. But we also know that God is always there with us to help us through, carry us over, and lift us out of the troubling situations that we get ourselves into.

Nevertheless, as we all situate our lives in the midst of a global pandemic … of biblical proportions … it might be worthy to consider what messages God may want us to hear as we continue to change the way we live because of the virus all around us. 

Here are some lessons God may be teaching us as we ponder what this COVID-19 virus is trying to teach us:

1) God is calling us back home, to a world where all people are one family – the family of God – and so, to have us break down all the walls of separation and exclusion that exist between peoples of the earth, so that we may begin to actually live as one family … just as God created us.

2) God is pleading with us to learn to love each other as sisters and brothers  — because in reality, that is how God created us to live on this earth.      

3) God is trying to teach us to detach ourselves from what has become our “normal” way of life – to let go of the daily grind; to let go of our attachments to material things; and to surrender to God’s way of life in the face of the selfish temptations that arise in our hearts. 

4) God wants us … to be still, and know God.

5) God is asking us to become willing to surrender the need to control the things in our life that are not for us to control.

6) God wants us to understand that “church” is not a building, but a community of faith, hope and love that centers its life on God and God’s Kingdom, not on worldly things. 

7) God is showing us that the Kingdom of God is not of this world – not based on continents or countries or states and provinces, or any other geographic area in the world. The Kingdom of God is God’s new plan for this world that comes from outside the world in order to transform the world. 

8) God is reminding us of the value of loving our neighbor as ourselves; of always putting others first; of developing a selfless and sacrificial heart; and of truly caring about other people … and all people. (e.g.: wear a mask!)

9) God is demonstrating for us the way of life God wants us to live through the words of the prophet Micah (Micah 6:8) “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.”

10) God is confirming for us the truth that our health and well-being … and indeed, our fate … is intertwined with everyone else’s; that we all have a common interest in how we live on this earth, for a single action somewhere affects other reactions everywhere; we cannot escape each other … we must learn to live with each other; justice denied to one person is justice denied to all of us; no person is an island – we are all in this together!    

If we could learn these 10 lessons in response to the COVID-19 pandemic … then (although the virus is not of God’s doing) the result of the virus on the people of the world could be biblical … even Godly! Perhaps that’s what God has planned for us as he turns this curse into blessings …

Stay safe – Mask Up – Love your neighbor –

Pastor Bob <><