Cringe is a word I’ve been leaning on lately. I’ve used it when I heard celebrities trying to comfort themselves by singing “Imagine There’s No Heaven.” I’ve used it after hearing people say that the coronavirus is a hoax. Supposedly all the police, the media, doctors, nurses, undertakers, politicians, and world leaders are somehow unified in purpose and are in reality well-rehearsed actors.
But there’s another group of cringeworthy people. These are the individuals who admit the virus is real but say they don’t need to follow the quarantine (a biblical practice, by the way) because they trust in God alone to protect them.
If the world does seriously turn against the Church in our country, it may be because of self-fulfilling prophecy. Like the criminal who imagines that the police are out to kill him, so he stockpiles illegal weapons to protect himself from the police and barricades himself in his home. Predictably, the police do show up at his home to confiscate his illegal weapons. He shoots first because he thinks they are trying to kill him. And so they do.
Christians who defy government ordinances to self-isolate understandably frustrate and anger authorities, who are trying to prevent mass deaths. In reality, they are bringing undue ridicule upon the church.
The New York Post recently reported,
An evangelical pastor died of COVID-19 just weeks after proudly showing off how packed his Virginia church was—and vowing to keep preaching “unless I’m in jail or the hospital.” 1
Despite officials urging social distancing (a day before the state officially banned gatherings of ten or more), their church remained open. The pastor said, “I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that.”2
The problem is that many within the contemporary church embrace unsound doctrine. They have been taught that the Scriptures promise prosperity, health, and wealth, which they are to name and claim. While such a belief may sound appealing, it doesn’t align with Scripture or with real life, and it will leave professed believers disappointed at best, bitter at worst.
The truth is that believers bruise when we fall. We get wet when it rains. We bleed when we’re cut, and we get toothaches, broken bones, headaches, and heartaches. Along with unbelievers we get sick, and we will all die. Jesus said that the same storms that hit the foolish man also hit the wise (see Matthew 7:24–27).
Being a Christian means obeying the law by wearing a seatbelt in a car, driving on the right side of the road, staying back from a cliff-edge because a sign says to, and using sensible precautions around infectious diseases that kill people.
While we don’t seek the world’s praise, Scripture says that we will have it if we are compliant to their laws:
Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. (Romans 13:2,3, emphasis added)
- Lee Brown, “Virginia pastor who defiantly held church service dies of coronavirus,” New York Post, April 13, 2020.