Speaking Balance into the Great Covid Debate
At the very beginning of the Coronavirus invasion I spent some time seeking the Lord’s wisdom about the coming disaster we now know as COVID-19. Immediately the Lord referred me to His words to His disciples upon sending them out with the message of the kingdom: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Mat 10:16 NKJV). For those of us who follow Christ we are sent out into a world of wolves that seek to devour us and keep us frustrated and fearful. We must, as Jesus warns, have the wisdom of serpents while being harmless as doves.
That advice has kept me in balance throughout the debate that has raged surrounding this virus and the arguments that have arisen. “Wise as serpents” alludes to the ancient understanding of the serpent as being cunning and crafty (Gen. 3:1, 13). Jesus was saying to His disciples; you are venturing out into a world governed by the serpent so you must have wisdom in the midst of the wolves. Wisdom implies the ability to think through situations and arrive at logical conclusions; the ability to think as God thinks as we are guided by the Holy Spirit; the ability to use our knowledge in practical ways. When the virus hit us it caused many people, including some Christians, to shift into a mindless, fearful, divisive state of continuous anxiety which turned out to be worse than the virus itself as far as how it affected us. We needed the advice and leading of Jesus concerning being wise as serpents. We continue to have that need.
On the other side of this balance are the words of Jesus encouraging us to be “harmless as doves.” Doves are harmless, gentle birds who could not hurt you if they tried. They will build a nest on your porch three feet from your head. They mean no harm as they go about their lives. Wisdom about Covid-19 and its effects has been very necessary but we also have needed the ability to remain harmless and gentle in our dealing with others who may not see it our way. This brings a balance to our lives for everyday life as believers as well as during this debate over COVID-19 with its numerous issues. We know where we stand because our wisdom has led us to the facts and has guarded us against presumptions and conspiracies. Being like doves we are understanding of those who have been led to different conclusions for whatever reason.
I have lost too many dear friends to COVID to downplay the threat of this evil virus. I have lost my older brother to the disease and know how he suffered. I and my wife have had minor cases of the disease but that doesn’t diminish its negative impact on others. We are very sensitive to those who have lost loved ones or who have experienced a serious case. I find it distasteful when people attack others because they have a different take on the issue. God will help us retain our wisdom while remaining harmless as doves toward others.
We Christians have a reputation of dividing over the smallest things. In the words of our Lord we often strain at a gnat while swallowing down a camel (Matt. 23:24). We make minor things into mountains of controversy. We argue and divide over nebulous doctrines like free will, the timing of the rapture or whether masks are effective against COVID. We should be willing to have our opinions because of the wisdom God has provided us while being gentle and harmless toward those who hold other opinions. We are children of the King but we live in a world governed by His enemy. The wisdom of the serpent allows us to know where we stand with God but should not divide us from our brothers in Christ.
We need to let the Holy Spirit use this time of chaos to teach us the endurance James says will produce a perfect result so that we may be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4, 5). He follows that up saying that if we lack wisdom we can ask God for it and He will generously, without reprimand provide it.
If we ask Him for this wisdom, we must be willing to allow it to bring us into conformity with His will. Wisdom is not just ours to use as we wish but is God’s gift that allows us to become more like Him. We are learning that COVID has a way of infecting people at the point of their weaknesses. Obese people, the elderly, and people with preexisting health conditions and other bodily weaknesses apparently provide the virus a place to attack with severity. Overall it seems that our immune systems seem to be exposed as weak or strong for whatever reason.
Doesn’t it make sense to ask God for wisdom about how to eat and live so that our immune systems are built up and able to protect us against disease? Are we eating with wisdom or do we just eat what we want anytime we want? God created our bodies and I suspect He knows what is best for our immune systems that He designed to fight off disease. Paul alluded to those “whose god is their appetite” and “who have their minds on earthly things” (Phil. 3:10). May we not fall into these traps of the enemy.
Paul, when writing about such things, said, “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12). Many things are not prohibited by God but some things, like food and drink, etc., can take control of our lives. We must remember Paul’s advice that we “were bought with a price,” and this means that we should glorify God in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20).
I am aware that this is a hard message. I’m also aware that we live in an imperfect world where God’s wisdom is essential to our lives. God’s people should be a beacon of hope, peace and harmony in this world that is designed to keep us from Gods’ best. I pray with Paul that God will “give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17). We need that urgently in this time of spiritual attack. If we let Him, God will turn this attack into an opportunity to cause His church to rise up in love, unity and power. Let it be so, Lord.