So, how are you coping with the lockdown for the Corona virus or COVID-19? Whatever name we give to the virus, the effect is the same. A virus can make us sick, and possibly kill us, and spread to others. We know that.
The other effect, is to destroy society. Have you noticed the list of corporations that are now in bankruptcy? This morning I heard about Hertz, the company that rents cars. We may not think about them unless we work for them, but did you ever imagine a world where so many big corporate names would disappear? The world is changing around us, in this pandemic.
Some of the changes are made by us. The pandemic itself is terrible in some places, or just a temporary disruption, depending on how people managed the crisis. History will judge us all. One other problem, is the blame aimed at people who break the rules.
I live in a place where the restrictions are not too extreme. If I don’t like the line ups when I shop, I can just drive out of the city to a suburb. Our area has a very low infection rate. What I have not seen, for weeks, is the inside of a church. We have churches, and synagogues, and mosques, and other religious places, and they are all closed.
Where I live, I believe the authorities are really trying to do the right thing. Even when we disagree, we like those people who care about us.
Things are very different in other parts of the world.
Before the pandemic, there were many opinions about religion, and about Christians. We know some of those opinions were negative and unfair, and we call that religious persecution. That was before the virus; now we have something new. Christians can be accused of breaking the rules in a pandemic, and the persecutors can just say they were doing their jobs. It’s not persecution anymore.
For example, in the country of Myanmar, a preacher who has Canadian citizenship has been arrested and may get three years in jail. He is accused of violating the rules for the virus pandemic. The pastor has said some controversial things, but someone pointed out that all religious people are meeting in large groups and saying things about the corona virus. Most people in Myanmar are Buddhist but only Christians have been arrested. All the others are free to continue meeting and preaching. It’s easy to see what’s happening here. The virus is real and dangerous, and it’s a good disguise for other agendas.
In another place, the country of Nepal, Christians have been arrested for praying for sick people. Apparently, praying for the sick is a violation of the national medical standards. Only licensed medical professionals can care for the sick.
That rule makes all Christians into criminals, and Jesus is the worst one. We are told to pray for the sick:
“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.” (James 5: 14 and 15)
That is clear, and it is usually harmless. Praying for the sick is a normal thing for every church, and it isn’t competition with doctors and hospitals. When Christians are arrested for praying, something else is happening, in disguise.
If there is any good news about persecuted Christians who pray for sick people, the persecution is only aimed at a threat. In Nepal, and in Myanmar, the numbers of Christians are growing. In Myanmar, some senior government officials are interested in the pastor. He was making changes in that country, before the pandemic.
Persecution is not a threat, it’s a mark of success.
Christians should remember, we follow someone who was persecuted to death; and then He changed the world.
These are the words of Jesus, in the Bible:
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. (John 15: 18 to 22)