There is a lot of fear swirling around us right now. We are worried about getting sick. We are worried about not having things we need. We are worried about jobs and school and church and how do we connect when we can't be near people? Rev. Singleton's sermon this morning about God's view of fear was both timely and empowering.
The scripture was taken from 2 Timothy 1:6-12, and she focused specifically on verse 7, which reads:
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (NKJV)
Fear can be a learned behavior, or it can come from a chemical/emotional condition, or it can be a spiritual problem. But notice, "God has not given us a spirit of fear." So fear does not come from God. Notice also that God has given us a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. God has not called us to be cowards, but to respond to the fear around us with courage, compassion, and control.
Courage in the face of fear can only be explained by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. It is a gift that Jesus gave to us. It is the courage of a parent who continues to persevere even after a cancer diagnosis, and it is the courage that a country and a church need to walk through a pandemic.
Courage and wisdom are not in conflict, because both are given from God. It is not faithless to lock your doors at night, or to wear a seat-belt in the car. It is wise. We need to be wise at this time, while also being courageous. We need to listen to the medical information and do our best to follow the protocols put forth by our leaders. Here in the United States, we are privileged to have a governmental structure and a medical system that are able to deal with this problem. Other places are not so well off. At the same time, we need to go forward knowing that God is in control and we don't have to be afraid of what is happening.
This difficult time is an opportunity for the church to show the love of God. The first step, as always, is to pray. Pray for God to stop the pandemic around the world. Pray for our President and our governmental leaders to have the wisdom to guide us. Pray that people will be able to see their need for Jesus Christ. Pray for the missionaries at work around the world.
Next, stop hoarding! If you have too much of something, while someone else doesn't have enough, that is a sin! Yes, we should buy what we need, but we need to be considerate. This is not a natural disaster where supplies can't be moved. The supply problem is largely a result of people overreacting and taking more than they need. Again, this is a function of fear.
Make sure to check in on each other. Find out if anyone has a need that you can meet. We can't spend much time physically together, but this is not the time to hide from the rest of the world. We can use the time to bless others.
How can Christians have a sound mind in the midst of all of this chaos? It is because a sound mind, or self-control, is also a gift of the Holy Spirit. Our minds are safeguarded from the confusion and fear by the Word of God. We don't have to know everything. We know that Jesus knows everything. He knows the end from the beginning. We just have to walk in His peace.
We need to be careful what we say. Everyone has opinions right now about what should be done. However, everyone is not an expert. God has given us all a certain expertise. We don't all have the same one. Someone with a sound mind doesn't act like an expert unless they are one. If we portray ourselves as experts in things that we really aren't, we lose our credibility in those things that we actually are expert in! We can also lead people astray with our opinions that we pass off as facts.
We can't let our worries cause us to speak or act in ways that misrepresent the Spirit that is in us. We are not to be part of the problem. We can do this, church! We need to shine the light of Jesus into this dark time. Throughout the ages, Christians have taken care of the sick and the poor around them. It has been our greatest witness. Let's rise up and follow our King into this current battle as the courageous army of the Lord!