As America grinds almost to a halt as we try to suppress the spread of the Corona Virus, governments are closing things up and shutting things down. As we are instructed to stay in our homes and keep our distance from other people, we are also being encouraged about how to think about these restrictions. We’re hearing pleas to younger people, especially, not to gather in bars and restaurants, because it speeds up the transmission of the virus. This will help protect the physically vulnerable—older folks [um, *wince*—somehow that now includes me] and those with compromised immunity.
What strikes me about the messages we are receiving is that God came up with them first.
These calls to citizens parallel God’s calls to believers. Several of the “one anothers” of scripture are particularly salient to our needs right now to pull together to fight this invisible enemy: not merely as a nation, but as human beings facing a global pandemic together.
Love one another (John 15:12). It is loving to keep your distance from others and stay home in order to keep yourself from catching, and even worse become an unknowing carrier for, what is a serious and sometimes deadly virus. It is loving to wash our hands for 20 seconds because it kills the virus and helps us keep from spreading the virus to others.
Serve one another (Galatians 5:13). It just delights me to receive texts from friends asking if they can go to the store for us, and to read offers on my Next Door app from people offering to run errands and shop for the older and health-challenged people in our neighborhood.
Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). Saying no to ourselves (such as wanting to hang out with friends in groups) in order to protect others is one way of bearing each other’s burdens. Buying online gift cards from restaurants that now can’t serve diners in order to provide a cash flow when they are strapped is another. Providing childcare, eldercare and respite care is yet another. Reaching out by phone, text and other social media is how we can bear the burden of loneliness to people in isolation.
Be hospitable to one other (1 Peter 4:9). Leaving food gifts on a neighbor’s door step. Sending/leaving notes to assure people they are remembered and they are important.
Pray for one another (James 5:16). We need to pray for protection, especially for health care workers who expose themselves to danger every minute of their working day. We need to pray for those struggling against the symptoms of the virus. Is there anything as scary as having trouble breathing? We need to pray for business owners and employees who have lost their ability to provide for themselves and their families.
I have a mental list that I pray through every time I wash my hands.
Finally, I especially love Philippians 2:3-4 in view of our current challenge:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
The entire country is being asked to put the risks and needs of other people ahead of our own. In a spectacular display of biblical thinking, Dallas County judge Clay Jenkins said we need to “turn from selfishness to sacrifice.”
Yes we do. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). In big and small ways.
It’s an exceptional opportunity for all of us to do things God’s way. Because He knows what works best.