Make no mistake, it feels a little like the end of the world out there, if you do get out. I was out driving at 1:30 am Sunday night and during a twenty-minute stretch on the most traveled road around here, Pacific Coast Highway, better known as PCH, or Hwy 1, I saw a total of three cars out driving. And I’m sure many of you have encountered the scene in the picture above which is the paper towel and toilet paper aisle in the local supermarket just last night. “Closed” signs are everywhere. Twenty-four-hour stores are now only twelve-hour-stores, and whatever restaurants are still open have taken out half their tables. It’s the Grand Canyon between you and the next table.
Marti pointed out that my title yesterday might have been a bit misleading. “Germ-free community” sounds so sterile and so perfect. “Look at us; we’re all germ-free!” I can see that title might have given that impression. That, of course, was not my intent. All I meant was that since our community is online and not in person, we are safe from spreading or catching any bugs around us. In truth, in relation to our sinfulness and our need for Jesus, we are actually a lot closer to being considered germ-ridden, pathogenic scum bags whom God loves somehow!
Last night at Church at the Catch, we experienced what could be called a positive outcome of the current coronavirus pandemic. We had the strongest attendance we’ve had since we started holding church live on Facebook, and we had the most lively interaction. It’s almost as if we suddenly realized, “Hey, we’re a germ-free community, and everyone can take part in the discussion.”
What an interesting time we live in. Just a few weeks ago, Corona was a bottle of beer with a slice of lime peeking out of it, and I would have guessed COVID-19 was a distant planet just discovered that might support life. Now it’s a virus that is threatening life for some, and totally altering life for everybody else.
How do we eliminate fear? By taking charge of our situation. By doing something instead of nothing. The two servants who invested the money the Master entrusted to them were not afraid (Matthew 25:14-28). If they had any fear at all, it was covered up by their activity. They knew their master was exacting, so they invested the money hoping for a return and for that they were rewarded. The third servant, however, was overcome with fear and did nothing. He buried his treasure, and God could do nothing with it because of his inactivity.
Fear rules where inactivity festers. Fear dissipates where activity flourishes.
Remember when the disciples were fearing for their lives on a stormy Sea of Galilee, and Jesus came to them walking on the water? Now they were even more afraid thinking they were seeing a ghost. But as soon as Peter saw that it was Jesus, he asked if he could walk out to meet him. Jesus told him to come and for a while Peter too walked on water until he took his focus off of Christ and onto the storm, then started sinking, requiring Jesus to reach out and rescue him.
Now compare Peter’s experience with that of the other eleven disciples on the boat. They are sitting there with nothing to do but worry. Peter didn’t have time to worry; he was too busy acting on his faith. He was having an adventure because he chose to get out of the boat and do something. He took charge of the situation and turned it into a story we’re still talking about and learning from today. And even when he did become afraid out there on the water when he took his eyes off of Jesus and started noticing the waves and the storm, Jesus was right there to rescue him.
Initiation dissipates fear. The “doing” is the best weapon against being afraid, because once we step out of the boat, the adventure begins. The choice is always ours – do nothing and be afraid, or do something and believe.
To touch or not to touch, that is the question.
Jesus was constantly around poverty and disease. He rubbed shoulders with the crowd. He touched lepers to heal them. He spit on the ground, made mud with his spit, rubbed it in a blind man’s eyes and told him to go wash his face, and when he did, he could see. One woman touched the hem of His garment and was immediately healed from a chronic hemorrhage. When Jesus asked who had touched Him, the disciples were indignant at the question in that He was being pressed by the crowd on all sides.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic. What do we do? The word from the experts is quarantine yourself. Stay inside. Avoid crowds. Wash your hands often. Stay six feet away from any other human beings. Now, my isolated self would love this. Now I have an excuse. Fill my spare room with toilet paper, lock my doors and, “See you in June!”
Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened, but in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 1 Peter 3:14-15
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
There is one thing I have to say about the global crisis that is facing us related to the current coronavirus outbreak that seems to be uppermost in everyone’s mind right now. The most important thing for us as followers of Christ is, yes, to listen to the advice of experts: be wise, be cautious, be safe — all of that is common sense — but more importantly: Do not be afraid.
Fear is one thing that must not be in the heart of a believer. Peter wrote not only to not be frightened, but not to fear what everyone else is fearing. In other words, don’t join the fear parade. There may be a virus epidemic brewing, but there is most definitely a fear epidemic going around, and it’s even more contagious than the virus. Fear is what we must guard against. The virus we can’t do a whole lot about, but the fear, we can. That’s because, as Peter told us, if Christ is in your heart, fear will not be. Jesus and fear do not co-exist. We are either ruled by one or the other.
This has been a monumental year so far. With this being an election year, and a completely divided electorate throwing contempt from pole to pole, and evangelical Christians sought after by both sides — not for their faith or their wisdom, but merely for their voting power — there couldn’t be a more critical time for the Catch Ministry vision to take hold and make a contribution as to what followers of Christ bring to the marketplace. Here is a great list for starters.