Always Being Prepared
This letter to you all is being written from my home. I’m one of the 20% - those whose compromised immune system dictates that one lay low during the spread of the coronavirus. I mention this in spite of the fact that it makes what I’m about to write seem ridiculous. For my topic is about being prepared to speak of the gospel in the midst of a world which has only one thing on its mind – the coronavirus and what to do about it.
It’s worth remembering that the Church has faced circumstances like this before. Acts 11:27-30records the response of believers to an impending famine of the Roman Empire. Reformation pastors and churches lived and ministered through the plague in the 16th century. In all these circumstances the witness of the church never waned. So it is for us now. We can prepare ourselves for mission at the same moment we face circumstances not to our liking.
But what does gospel preparedness look like? It begins with focused prayer for the world around us – the city of Wichita and its environs; our workplaces; our schools; and our neighborhoods. Our prayers should seek God’s compassion on our human race, namely that God would, in his mercy, limit the number of cases and deaths we must face. But our prayers are not complete unless they include petitions for people’s salvation, especially those we know by face or by name.
We must also be prepared to speak, ready to give a reason for the hope which is ours in Christ (1 Peter 3:15). The coronavirus and people’s response to it provides a number of links to the gospel message. Living under the cloud of the epidemic confronts people with the reality of sickness and death. Some are experiencing their first serious thoughts about their own mortality. As Christians, we should not fear to talk about death, and offer the hope of the gospel.
We should likewise be prepared to witness anger and frustration as people struggle to deal with a new normal, if normal there can be. Scripture reminds us that a quiet answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1), and our compassion can go a long way to diffuse such reactions. We should be the first to acknowledge our own anger and fears, for we know that it was for people like us that Christ died and rose again (Titus 3:4-7).
Given the reality of quarantines, our face-to-face meetings with others may be few. It will take a certain boldness to seize those moments to ask a question or to strike up a conversation. But we must prepare ourselves for whatever comes our way in this season of uncertainty.
“Always being prepared” is the Bible’s reminder that the happiness and hope which people long for is ours to offer others. May the Lord find us ready to be faithful witnesses of the gospel.
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