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Opinions Sun, 22 Mar 2020

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The message, beyond pandemics

I wish to, in this piece share the message that has lived the earth, outlived the universe and will forever be the very mind, eye and heart of God (Supreme Being). The message beyond pandemics of old, the present and of the future.

A bit into history as I love to do, has brought me many findings in the invasion and post-invasion and their respective effects on the human race – I am talking Pandemics. The world, with a very high level of accuracy in my findings, has experienced about 20 pandemics dating from the Antoine Plaque of 165 – 180(AD) to COVID- 19 of the present age.

A Pandemic is an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population. There could be very deadly diseases that may not necessarily be pandemic, just like there could be pandemics that could have great effects on a very high proportion of the population with a minimal level of danger and/or death.

Now in any of the instances above, it is highly important to adhere to safety measures as far as your health is concerned. It is a very high level of recklessness to downplay health safety measures in a pandemic era if you still want to be alive or better still avoid whatever effects that come with them. Therefore, writing this in March 2020 amidst the happenings around COVID- 19, I will say that you need to take a high interest in meticulously administering health & safety measures in keeping you safe. I will at the end of this piece, give you a summary of the history of pandemics for your appreciation.

An era like this from history and visible even in the present comes with a lot of reactions and responses. We have experienced for the past few days one of the highest online presence of our age. This cuts across all factions of human endeavours. One of the dominating factors I want to focus on which will eventually lead us to the message is the response of the church to this pandemic.

A good number of fantastic ideas have found their way into the church, especially with the help of technology. The social distancing precaution aimed at reducing the level at which the virus gets to spread has digitalised most church meetings.

This is good news to a very good extent, and it is very good owing to the fact that people who would rather not find themselves in church gatherings on days of worship would now chance on a digital service – which in my opinion presents the church a very good opportunity to reach out to souls.

In the midst of the good news, there is a concern. A concern I sincerely believe every practising Christian should get worried upon hearing it. There is a gross misrepresentation in the message of some that I have come across and I believe letting this slide will be very inhuman and in fact spiritually inaccurate. Before I touch on the level of panic and fearsome Christians are seriously firing around, I would want to touch on the MESSAGE of salvation.

I have seen countless messages from folks “spiritually and emotionally” admonishing people to repent using the pandemic as a reference point. I am trying to say that some folks are using COVID- 19 as an evangelistic tool.

Some have tagged it a “call to repentance” and others have tagged it a time to get closer to God. Therefore, I ask myself, what will be the message should COVID- 19 expressly get an effective vaccine? Calling people to repentance is not wrong and in fact, would never be wrong.

As if I do not know this is likely to spark some controversy, I go on to say that before COVID- 19 the Salvation message was intact and it will still be intact after its demise – which I believe is way sooner than later.

The greatest Message we can take advantage of to win souls for Christ is the Love of God, made perfect and presented to us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Moreover, this is not based on coronavirus in any form or shape.

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18)

These are the words of Jesus, the Christ, as written in the Bible.

Brethren, the Love of God through Jesus extends to those infected with coronavirus and those who are not. The love of God, perfectly expressed through Christ Jesus is readily available to those who have tested positive today, those who will test positive tomorrow and those who would not even avail themselves to be tested. You can escape coronavirus and not escape hell if you are fed with the wrong message. It is emotionally wrong, morally incorrect, spiritually misplaced and scripturally unsound to put fear in the hearts of people to accept Jesus, as their Lord and Saviour.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2Tim 2:7).

Let us find a way to end this short piece. Why are some folks able to deliver this message of fear so accurately and sometimes with scriptural references (mostly taken out of context)? My answer is quite simple; it is mostly due to what they have been feeding on. Churches that focus on fighting their way unto salvation and freedom (fighting the devil, witches, and demons all the time) are likely to breed this kind of members. This is because they are constantly living in fear and so the sound from the fall of a toothbrush on the floor at night could call for an all-night of prayer meeting against demonic attack.

Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

As outlined in the scripture above, we do not play dumb to the devices of the enemy and other vices like pandemics, yet they are not supposed to be the primary focus. The approach is different when we fight from the place of victory given us by the love of God through Christ Jesus. The victorious blood of Jesus is still speaking for us. When the heart of men are consistently drawn towards Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, faith and love consistently overflow in our lives; even in the face of adversity. Have you asked yourself how the early church even at the point of death will still proclaim the goodness of the Lord?

The fall of man came with a cost to pay, but Jesus stepped in. Brethren, there are more eternal realities to this message. Until we get to this truth, the enemy will continue to deceive and take advantage of most folks. We are in this world but we definitely not of this world, as Jesus said in (John 17:16.) He continues to make a profound statement in verse 20 of the same chapter;

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, (John 17:20).

God is counting on us in these last days to declare the Message and we cannot afford to do otherwise. The MESSAGE does not become more powerful by hiding behind misfortunes/pandemics to preach them with fear attached to it. The Gospel does not become powerful by attaching it to malaria, HIV/AIDS or preaching it in other form apart from delivering the Love message of God through Jesus Christ, His Son.

By the way, many congregations cancelled services, and some Christians focused on feeding and nursing the poor during the 1918 Spanish flu (pandemic 1918 – 1919) as a response. What is the current churches response to COVID- 19 apart from finding means to connect with their members?

I conclude with the words of Paul the Apostle:

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In all these, choose faith over fear. Plug into the love of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Columnist: David Bethel

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