Over the last year my wife, Tana, and I have been gathering with a few Christian neighbors in our small village for friendship and fellowship. Often we’ve prayed for our village, asking God to show us how to love and serve our neighbors.
A few days ago, we began praying in a more specific way: How do we love our neighbors now? How do we love them even if they’ve gotten the coronavirus?
Jesus said we, his followers, are to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. This is who we are. This is our identity. We are to illumine places and feelings and topics of darkness and fear. We are to prevent decay and preserve life. We are to continue shining in the face of COVID-19. And we’re to love our neighbors who’ve caught coronavirus.
As A. W. Tozer put it, “A frightened world needs a fearless church.”
Time of Opportunity
We’ve begun to see this as an opportunity, a defining moment in history for God’s people. The coronavirus outbreak has shown how quickly fear can cause panic. It’s understandable for people who don’t know Jesus. This life is all they have. But Jesus tells his people not to fear:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
A few nights ago, we prayed for our neighbors and for the world. We prayed Jesus would move in powerful ways by his Spirit during these troubled times. We prayed God would bring healing to the sick and hope to the afraid. We prayed Jesus would move his body, the church, to love their neighbors sacrificially amid their fear; that they’d love people by being willing to put themselves at risk; that they’d show the world Christ’s love.
God at Work
As we prayed, the thought entered my mind that maybe God was planning to use coronavirus to grow his kingdom and share his love. Of course he is—he’s a good God who won’t waste an ounce of pain or suffering.
Now is the time for the church to rise, to move toward others in faith when everyone else is pulling away in fear. The world is watching what governments, schools, and businesses will do. The world is watching how people respond.
Now is the time for the church to rise, to move toward others in faith when everyone else is pulling away in fear.
We are the only people living for the kingdom to come. We are the people of Jesus. We are the people of the Prince of Peace. Jesus said they’ll know we’re his disciples by our love for one another and for our neighbors, so let us love deeply, wisely, sacrificially, and practically.
Putting It to Practice
We decided to find a way to love our neighbors now. We began reaching out to other believers in our village about how we could show the love of Jesus—together.
One friend shared a flyer designed to help people who are self-isolating due to COVID-19. We took the idea, but redesigned it to share the hope and peace of Jesus and to offer to pray. This is something simple and practical that Christians can do to love their neighbors in coming weeks.
We want to make sure every street in our little village will be loved and supported. We printed a map of the village to plan who would take which streets. I covered about 30 homes near our home, and now we’re collaborating with other people in our village in a Facebook group.
You can do the same in your village, on your street, in your neighborhood or city.
Make yourself available to serve those who’ve self-isolated. Go to the store for them, share your supplies, pick up medicine, and, above all, pray for them.
Tell them Jesus loves them, that they’re not alone. Tell them you’re going to be there for them through this as God has always been with you. Show them you believe the gospel. Show them Jesus is so real you’re willing to put yourself at risk to love them—because Jesus does.
You are the salt of the earth. . . . You are the light of the world. . . . In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 5:13–16)
Click here to download our flyer and show love to your community.