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Led by Love

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“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear”

1 John 4:18

Over the last few weeks I, like you, have had more conversations and thoughts concerning the Coronavirus than I can count. It seems to be the only thing on our minds. We talk about it at home. We talk about it at work. I have family in the Seattle Washington area and I am calling them to see how they are doing. And last night the President addressed the nation concerning this pandemic. In all of these conversations I feel like we are looking for direction, someone to give us the answer to how we should respond.

There are many things that I think could and should be communicated about how to combat the spread of the virus, but I am no expert and so I would only be repeating what other, more qualified people are saying. However, there is one thing I want to share that I hope will be an encouragement:

As we enter a time of uncertainty let us all be led by love and not fear.

What do I mean? I mean that we are going to have to begin to make decisions and take action in ways that we are not familiar. What will guide these decisions? Love or fear?

Why should I begin to be more vigilant about hand washing? 

  • Fear (a): I don’t want to get sick. 
  • Fear (b): I am young and healthy so I am not going to worry about washing my hands. 
  • Love: I don’t want to cause my brother to become sick because I was unwilling to wash my hands.

How should I prepare for a possible quarantine? 

  • Fear: I need a case of toilet paper, all the hand sanitizer I can find, gallons of Clorox, and a crate of canned goods.
  • Love: I need to ensure my family has the basics including a few weeks of food and medications and I should check on my elderly neighbors and family to ensure they have what they need.

How should I handle “social distancing?”

  • Fear: I need to isolate myself from all outside contact until this thing blows over. 
  • Love: I need to maintain proper physical distance but maintain community through phone calls, email, social media, and local gatherings that maintain proper health environments.

How should I deal with my anxiety?

  • Fear: I need to watch the news every waking hour looking for signs that things are getting better or things are getting worse. 
  • Love: I need to go to the Lord in prayer for my community, my country, our healthcare workers, our leaders, and our most vulnerable populations.

Pastor Brett in his Lent service sermon a few weeks ago reminded us that the night before Christ was crucified, He was in fact nervous. The tension was so intense that the Bible tells us He sweat drops of blood. In the midst of His struggle He went to prayer. He pleaded,

Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. (Luke 22:42 ESV)

Fear could have driven Him from the cross, but love compelled Him to the cross. His love was displayed in that He gave up His life to pay the penalty for the sins of His people. He poured out His blood and gave up His life that we might have life. As Jesus said,

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 ESV)

Over the next several days and weeks we will all be faced with novel questions. Questions we may never have thought we would have to face. As a pastor, for example, I never thought I would have to face questions of how to do communion in a more sanitary fashion, or if and when we should cancel public services because of a pandemic.

Yet our guiding principle must be the love of Christ. How might we take up our cross in love and in faith follow his lead? Don’t let fear lead you but in faith follow the way of Jesus Christ, the way of self-giving love.