God and Covid-19

We are interrupting our series on Luke to do a Christian analysis on Covid-19. Here in NZ we are very blessed to be at alert level 1, but this is still a living reality for many in the rest of the world. My concern in doing this is a pastoral one. More than ever before we have been inundated with the voices of the media in analysing what has recently happened. We have all been tuned into the media and been saturated with their perceptions, judgements, and problem solving principles. We have all learnt new words and concepts and been told over and over again what the right thing is to do. I am concerned that we need a renewing of our minds, if you like a brain wash, where we remind ourselves of the Bible’s perspective on these matters. In times like these we will be made to feel that Christians do not have the expertise to speak to such matters and so we should just do and think as we are told. The Bible is God’s word and equips us for every good work, in other words, there is not a situation that can arise that the Bible does not indicate the clear path for the Christian to walk in. This will be a short series where we will look at 4 aspects of our lives in relation to the Coronavirus. Firstly, we will look at God and Covid-19, what is God doing in this virus? Many questions about His sovereignty and goodness come up which we will seek to answer biblically. Secondly, we will look at the church and Covid-19. With various new technologies and our inability to meet questions about the nature of church have arisen and revisiting what the bible says about the church is necessary. Thirdly, the government and Covid-19, what is the role of government as it relates to the pandemic and legislating that churches should not meet; what is our response to the governments call for churches not to gather with regards to legality and wisdom. Fourthly, we might look at the Christian and Covid-19.

Today we begin looking at God and Covid-19. We want to ask and answer as biblically as we can the question: What is God doing in this pandemic? Now off the bat this way of thinking is contrary to what some Christians think. Well known Anglican scholar, N.T. Wright, who is also a major player in the New Perspective on Paul movement, wrote an article for Time magazine which has been titled, ‘Christianity offers no answers about the Coronavirus. It’s not supposed to.’ He calls our attempt to speak biblically into the situation silly and rationalistic, ‘No doubt the usual silly suspects will tell us why God is doing this to us. A punishment? A warning? A sign? These are knee-jerk would-be Christian reactions in a culture which, generations back, embraced rationalism: everything must have an explanation.’1 He goes on to paint a picture that denies the traditional views on God telling us that the Christian response is to lament not understand because God laments. This is the traditional suffering God not sovereign God approach to explaining suffering. When something goes wrong a therapeutic approach where God only identifying with us in our suffering is meant to console, but this is cold comfort. To present God as a nice guy who has no power over His creation is not comforting. The Bible presents a clear picture of a God who is good, who is all powerful, and who is holy interacting with a fallen world according to principles of justice and grace as He works out His plan.

In this message I want to explore a biblical idea which will sound controversial at first but you have to hang in there with me so that I can explain. Here is the big idea: All suffering in this world is because of sin. The reason this sounds controversial is because it sounds like the typical knee jerk view that when something like the earthquake in Christchurch happens, many ignorant Christians cry out, ‘God is judging Christchurch!’ what I am saying is not as simplistic as this. In order to dig deeper into this idea we will explore it under three headings, the fall and suffering; personal judgement and suffering; repentance and suffering.