In the midst of the coronavirus, we have loved seeing the tangible acts of kindness and hope. Our hearts swelled when we saw Italians singing from their balconies. Tears came to our eyes when cars in a hospital parking lot flickered their lights as they prayed collectively for the patients and medical workers inside. Many pastors and church leaders have spoken words of comfort and hope on social media. These messages and actions are SO needed, so keep them going! Continue to be a spreader of hope!
But is there another message that can make the message of hope more robust, perhaps even more biblical? It’s the message Jesus used to begin His ministry – a simple, yet profound message, “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17).
Nation Crisis = Time to Repent
Repent? What would repentance have to do with a contagious virus? We are NOT saying that God sent this virus until people turn back to him! Not at all. God is the Good Author of life and not the source of deadly viruses. But God does not always look at ailments and crisis like we do.
For example, before Jesus was born the angel told Mary to name him, “Yeshua,” which means, “salvation,” because “he will save his people from their sins.” To Jews suffering under the rule of cruel Rome that is NOT the message they wanted to hear. “Save his people!” Yes, save them from Rome. That sounded great! But this Messiah came to save God’s people “from their sins.” This promised Messiah was not focused on changing the government or putting down the sins of the Roman oppressors; this coming Messiah wanted to rescue God’s people from their own evil hearts!
We often want to criticize culture for moving far from God and promoting things that are against God. Yet, God doesn’t expect the lost world to be “salt” that preserves culture or “light” that pushes back darkness. God calls the Church to this noble task. However, often God’s people act, promote, vote, and engage in the same sin as the lost and broken world.
Better Than Hand-Washing
What if during this coronavirus season the Church turns back to God? God’s ways, God’s standards, God’s ideas, God’s purposes? In these days of emphasizing hand-washing and personal hygiene, what if God is calling us to hygiene of the heart?
Through Jesus, repentance changes our minds and cleans our hearts. Repentance of God’s people brings revival. When revival hits a group of people, the lost will experience God’s power and want God’s cleansing as well. When the Church only speaks comfort and peace in the midst of crisis but forgets to call the church to repentance, do we only offer shallow hope?
Our son came out of his room the other day and said, “This devotion book is too easy. It says, ‘Stay serious in your relationship to God.’ But how can I measure that? I think I’m serious, but I can’t really do anything to live that out.” We went on to discuss how that action point wasn’t measurable; it was only an application of the mind. But if the devotion book had said, “Today what step can you take to demonstrate that you are serious in your relationship with God? How can you treat your siblings today that shows you take your relationship with God seriously?” Then there’s a direct action. Church planting movements are taking place around the world when God’s people obey God’s Word (rather than seeing Scripture as a rationale thinking exercise). With tangible obedience, Scripture moves beyond reflecting and meditating to action.
Are you ready to work on some hygiene for the heart? We’ll give you a place to start.
Here we see six things God hates and seven that are an abomination. All of these sins listed are how we hurt other people. There are obviously more lists you can reference. But as a starting point, go through this list and repent for yourself, go through it as a class or church, and then go through it interceding for our nation.
1. Haughty eyes – Pride and thinking highly of oneself. Preferring self over others.
2. Lying tongue – Twisting words or deception. Satan is a liar and the father of lies.
3. Hands that shed innocent blood – Condoning or promoting abortion (3,000 per day in the U.S.) or physical abuse. Satan kills and destroys.
4. Hearts that devise wicked schemes – Evil and corrupt plans to promote sin and harm.
5. Feet that rush quickly to evil – Running or surfing fast to be entertained by sin.
6. False witnesses that pour out lies – Gossip and slander that speaks against a person. It corrupts the whole system of justice.
7. Person who stirs up conflict in the community – Social media posts or actions that needlessly “stir up” or condemn others within the Body of Christ, calling people names like “false teachers” when in fact it may simply be a difference of opinion, acting with Satan to be the “accuser of the brethren.”
As you think through this sickening, infectious list, realize that Satan loves and smiles on all of these actions. Believers, we should run far from these sins. These contaminants pollute our hearts, cover us with the disease of sin, spread easily, and need to be exposed and washed away!
So, let us practice some heart hygiene! During this time of quarantine what if we allowed God to really cleanse us? What if we repented personally and corporately? What could happen?
May we turn from our wicked ways! May we call the Church to repent! And may God hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land!