I would like to start off with a meme (as I often do when I blog) but in this case to remind me NOT to be pompous and that all and sundry have a view on the crisis that dwarfs all others at this time.
I speak of course about the Corona virus outbreak, mindful I am no expert and have not earned the right to pontificate on what needs to be done in a paradigm that is anyway changing by the day and is profoundly exercising the minds of those who are expert. While I have lots of tales to tell about my own experience then so have many others. My experience of empty shelves and queues in supermarkets, meetings and appointments canceled and even the pressure to self-isolate (and a chance to read and write my book etc.) is petty in comparison with what many have to face at this time. Attitudes vary from fear and panic to disdain and dismissal. Frustrations faced include lack of communcation, despair and a sense we have lost the plot, bringing out both the best and worst in humanity.
Since I wrote my “The Coronavirus and the end is near” article LESS than I week ago, I am amazed how quickly things have changed in the meantime, with so much shutting down on activities not deemed strictly essential and with it a huge socio-economic impact. My initial instinct is people have over-reacted, but then what do I know? If asked, do I trust the government, who have made many of these decisions, the answer is no. But then I recognize if is as a result of taking expert advice, it may be better than my non expert opinion. Besides, I believe we should obey government, with one exception if it means we disobey God, and taking responsibility, as we must, may mean making difficult decisions. I also believe we should pray for government, that when faced with difficult decisions they act wisely and in the best interests of all the people.
Like many watching events taking place, I ponder how we got to where we are. A number of people who I respect have come up with opinions around the idea of the virus being part of a dastardly plot by an ungodly hidden hand that stands to benefit from chaos and disruption. One of many I have read that has some credibility is titled: “Timeline: The early days of China’s coronavirus outbreak and cover-up“. I don’t dismiss such notions, which some would see as conspiracy theories, nor that we are seeing a diabolical plot to subjegate humanity. But rather than wax on about what may or may not be happening, other than keeping a careful watch on what is happening, we should rather focus on staying safe and helping the vulnerable, and doing our bit to help and alleviate suffering. Now, this is the time to call upon the Lord to have mercy.It brings me to a Christian response, which I discussed in my earlier article. Since then I have been made aware of many fantastic responses down the centuries, the latest being: “How Early Christians Saved Lives and Spread the Gospel During Roman Plagues”. As churches also self-isolate (my own has cancelled meetings as have many) they should see it as an opportunity to help the vulnerable. Given the Lord invariably works in mysterious ways, I wonder if using the present crisis is His way to refine and ultimately bless the Church and through it to bless the wider community. Besides those known to me in my community, there is the matter of the homeless who have no homes where they can self-isolate and are naturally worried, who will likely face the biggest hit from activities shutting down. While I feel blessed to be ok, I know many who are facing hardship, including the impact this has upon businesses. The command to “love thy neighbor” has enormous implications and a multitude of outworkings. It should also be conceded that this is something many of my non-Christian friends take seriously too, which I find very touching, including a wide range of spontaneous help your neighbour initiatives.
Another Christian response is relating this to end time Bible prophecy. While I take this seriously, such as the warnings of Jesus, which include the things we are seeing now, we need to be balanced in our views. While I believe the New World Order, Babylon the Great which controls the world economic system, the one world rule of the Anti-Christ and Old Testament predictions about the Last Days are to be expected, I am loathe to equate current events with specific prophetic fulfillments and would point people to Him who promised His peace. Yet alarm bells need to be raised because the Corona scare may be the precursor to something far more sinister. As we cast our eyes over the global picture and wider response, already we are seeing beginnings of martial law, threats to human liberty, a globalist backlash and rise of authoritarian socialism I have been warning folk about. While health and social care may be the main concern as I write, longer term it will be economics, the affects of social distancing and the matter of who controls our lives.
While we live in disturbing and momentous times, it is also one of enormous opportunity and when we can re-focus on what truly matters, to do with our common humanity. As a community activist I would be remiss if I ignored the community; as a gospel preacher I would be remiss if I did not call upon people to repent of their sin and believe the gospel; as a watchman I must warn; and as one of the elderly, vulnerable remiss if I don’t take precautions.
Final thoughts – at least for now!