What should Jesus-followers do in response to the current coronavirus
Hi friends. Well, here we are…in your living room! Since large group
meetings are banned for the next 30 days, it looks like we’ll be meeting in your
living room for a few weeks! Thanks for hosting us! I like what you’ve done with
I don’t think this can ever take the place of meeting face to face and
worshipping together, but it’s the best we can do right now, so let’s make the most
of it—together! Every problem is an opportunity—an opportunity to learn, to
grow, to experience something new! So we expect some good things to come out
of this. Life dealt us some lemons; with God’s help, let’s make lemonade
together…and maybe some lemon meringue pie!
I want to talk with you today about What to Do in a Crisis. Specifically,
what to do in this crisis—although what I’ll share can be applied to many kinds of
crisis, personal or corporate. Before we get there, let me share how this works.
First of all, where’s the worship? You will see a link that will connect you
to a couple songs we’ve selected. When we’re done, if you’d like, you can click
there and sing along. Worship isn’t just something that happens in big church with
a band and a fog machine! It can—and should—happen at home too. Laina and I
play a lot of worship music at home, and I often find myself singing along—and
sometimes stopping to lift my hands and tell Jesus that I love Him! So…give it a
try! Remember, this is an opportunity to grow!
What about the kids? You’ll see a link for some kids resources. When
we’re done, click there and use the resources to have some fun with your kids.
You are your children’s pastor! This is an opportunity for some hands-on growth
with your kids. Enjoy it!
What about giving? I’m so glad you asked! Obviously, we still need your
support—our financial obligations, like yours, aren’t going away! We still need to
pay our staff and mortgage and pay for our ministries. There are several ways to
give. You’ll see a link that will take you to…. By the way, Laina and I have
automated our giving, as have many of you. That not only makes it easier for you
to give, but also easier for us to budget! Thanks for your generosity.
You’ll also notice a prayer link. Click on that if you’d like to be prayed for,
or would like to pray with people. We will have a prayer team at all three service
times online praying for people.
Let’s dive into our subject today: What to do in a crisis. Specifically, what
should Jesus-followers do in response to the current coronavirus crisis? Here are
four practical things you can and should do in this crisis—and they apply to any
kind of crisis.
1. Be informed.
1 Corinthians 12:1, 2 Corinthians 1:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:13
Misinformation fuels all kinds of paranoia, fear and panic, or the
opposite—indifference when you should be concerned. So it’s important to be
well-informed. Since I’m a pastor, I like to find a verse for everything! In the
three verses on your outline, the apostle Paul tells people, “I don’t want you to be
uninformed.” Paul wanted them to be informed about spiritual gifts, about his
personal hardships, about Christians who die and the Lord’s return. In each of
those cases, misinformation had resulted in problems, which Paul corrects. We’ve
seen the same thing in this crisis—misinformation has created all kinds of
So be informed. And that means getting your information from reliable
sources. The major news outlets—our local paper and TV stations, and national
news stations are reliable sources of information. The CDC (Centers for Disease
Control) and WHO (World Health Organization) are reliable medical sources.
Please: do not believe everything you read and hear on social media. Some of it
may be reliable, but social media is also a breeding ground for half-baked opinions
and misinformation. Double check your sources. Be informed.
Here are a few things you should know about this disease. (CDC)
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads from person to person through
respiratory droplets when infected people cough, sneeze or speak (some of us spray
when we speak). This is why it is important to stay at least 6 feet away from those
who may be infected, and to clean surfaces that might have been infected.
Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you get sick, stay
at home—avoid other people, quarantine yourself—except to get medical care.
Call your doctor first before going in so they can prepare for your visit. And of
course, wash your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, clean high
touch surfaces and monitor your symptoms.
80% of those infected will experience mild symptoms and not require
treatment; just stay home and get well. Another 16% will require some treatment.
Currently the death rate is 3.4%, and those most at risk—by far—are the elderly,
and those with underlying conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes,
or compromised immune systems. If you are in that high risk group, please take
extra precautions. If someone you love is in that group—like my 90 year old
mom—please help them take extra precautions.
The best way to prevent this illness is to avoid exposure to the virus.
That’s why we’re in your living room instead of all together at the church!
Evidence has shown that social isolation is the best way to stem the tide of a
Some of my friends think that all of this is needless panic. I don’t think so.
Here is why. The big concern is that if we don’t get ahead of this thing, it will
overwhelm our medical capacity. Scientists call it “flattening the curve.” This
graph will help you. If we don’t take action—if we don’t practice social
isolation—the disease will spike and will surpass our medical capacity. We simply
won’t have enough beds in hospitals or ventilators care for all those infected. This
leads to situations like one faced this week by an Italian doctor who had one
ventilator and three desperate patients. Who does he treat? Which lives does he
risk? That is what we’re trying to avoid happening here. If we do take action now
to prevent the rapid spread of the disease by imposing social isolation, it will
flatten the curve and keep us from being overwhelmed medically and having to
make those awful choices. It will also save many lives.
So we’re doing the right thing, friends. Be informed. Stay healthy.
2. Be fearless.
John 14:27, 2 Timothy 1:7
Crises like this generate lots of fear and panic. Certainly the danger is real.
People have died, and more will still get sick and die. I don’t want to minimize the
danger. But fear and panic don’t lead to good decisions; they generally lead to bad
ones. As Christians, we don’t live or lead out of fear.
Paul wrote: 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and
timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
The Holy Spirit who lives within us, the Spirit of God, doesn’t inspire fear,
but power, love and self-discipline! I love that.
And Jesus gave this promise: John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I
give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.
Jesus promised us His peace, a peace that sustains us through the most
difficult circumstances. So don’t be afraid. Trust Him and experience His peace.
He’s got this!
ILL: During the German bombing of London in WW2, a father was
caught outside with his small son. Seeking shelter as quickly as possible,
the father jumped into a crater made by a bomb, and held up his arms for
his son to follow. Standing on the rim of the crater, staring into the
darkness, the terrified boy heard his father’s voice calling for him to jump.
“I can’t see you, Father!” he cried. The father, looking up at his son
silhouetted against the sky illuminated by burning buildings, shouted, “But
I can see you, son–jump!” The boy jumped because he trusted his father.
In situations like this that change so quickly, and make the future so unpredictable,
we may feel afraid. W’re staring into the darkness; we can’t see. But God sees
you. You may not know what’s going on, but He does. Trust Him. And be
3. Be wise.
Proverbs 22:3, Acts 27:9-10, Ephesians 5:15-17
Be informed, be fearless, be wise. When I say be fearless, I don’t mean, “be
reckless.” As I said, the danger in this crisis is real, particularly for high risk
populations. So be fearless, but don’t be reckless—be wise. Take wise
Proverbs 22:3 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep
going and pay the penalty.
Pretty clear. The wise see danger and take refuge. They don’t just keep
going; they change course and avoid it. But the foolish keep going and pay the
penalty: they get sick! There’s a great example of this in the book of Acts. In Acts
27, the apostle Paul is a prisoner on a ship sailing for Rome. They had been
delayed until late Fall when sailing had become dangerous.
Acts 27:9–10 So Paul warned them, 10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is
going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives
If anybody was fearless, it was the apostle Paul. He was a stud! Amazing!
So he wasn’t being a fraidy-cat; he was just being wise. He saw danger and took
refuge. But the foolish wanted to keep going—and you know what happened?
They were caught in a ferocious storm and lost the ship and cargo—all of it gone.
“I told you so.”
So let’s be fearless, but let’s be wise. Let’s take wise precautions in the face
of danger, while at the same time trusting God to care for us.
Some wise precautions are:
Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Please stay home if you are sick.
When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside
of your elbow.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
And of course, schools have closed and all group gatherings have been cancelled
as a wise precaution to prevent the rapid spread of this virus.
Be informed, be fearless, be wise, and…
Matthew 5:13-16, 25:31-46, Acts 9:36, 20:35
In Matthew 25, Jesus paints a picture of the final judgement. He said that
He would separate people as a shepherd separates the sheep and goats. To the
sheep, He said, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance,
the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry
and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to
drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed
me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Matthew 25:37–40 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did
we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38
When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe
you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the
least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Jesus-followers are known for caring for the least of these: the hungry,
thirsty, naked, stranger or foreigner…and the sick and the imprisoned. In our
current situation, those who are sick or imprisoned in their homes. Jesus-followers
ILL: In his book, Water from a Deep Well, my friend, Dr. Jerry Sittser,
describes how Christians responded during the great plagues that befell the
Roman Empire in 165 and 250 AD. Scholars estimate that up to ¼ of the
population perished in each plague—25%! At the height of the second
epidemic, thousands were dying every day in Rome.
While the plague affected both Christians and pagans, they responded
very differently. The pagans refused to touch dead bodies; the Christians
bathed and buried them. The pagans avoided the sick, even their own
families; the Christians nursed and cared for them, often at the cost of their
own lives. Ironically, despite their willingness to risk their lives,
Christians survived the plague at a higher rate than pagans. Most
importantly, their witness was a powerful reason that many pagans
believed in Jesus and the church grew.
Jesus-followers are helpful.
This crisis is an opportunity: an opportunity to love our neighbors, to care
for the sick, to help those in need. To let your light shine by simply being helpful.
ILL: This week, when we were discussing how to pull off church online,
one of our staff said, “If I was sick at home, I would appreciate a bowl of
soup much more than an online service.” Touche!
Who do you know that might need a bowl of soup? An encouraging visit? A
concerned phone call? Someone to run to the store for them? Let’s be helpful.
Let’s see this crisis as an opportunity to be helpful and in the process to
represent Jesus well.
Before I pray, look at our two closing questions.