Tuesday, March 17, 2020

By Steve Hobbs
New Life has suspended public gatherings through next week at least, and more information will follow as the situation develops.
When the church in Jerusalem came under persecution beginning with the death of Stephen, most believers fled that persecution (Acts 8:1-4) and wherever they went continued to preach the word. I suppose a case could have been made by the apostles who remained in the city that a true man or woman of faith would never run in the face of danger, but no one seems to have arrived at that conclusion.
We use the phrase “leap of faith” sometimes. It’s a reference to the second temptation
of Christ, when the adversary – quoting a promise of God from Psalms – tempted Him to make a public display of His divine immunity and thereby prove Himself to be the Son of God. Jesus would perform many attesting miracles, but He would not be pressured to jump at that moment because it was rash, foolhardy, a quick route to instant fame and glory and popularity, and not something to which His Father had directed Him. I’ve met some believers who’ve jumped when this particular temptation was presented in their experiences, and they always end up broken to pieces, wondering what went wrong since they thought they were “believing in the promises of God.” I can do all things through a scripture taken out of context!
A teacher once helped me with these words: “God doesn’t expect you to check your brains at the door when you come to live in His house. The brains are His gift to you.” So I trust in God for security, but I lock the doors of my vehicle when I go in the store, I check the smoke alarms, I warn my children about personal safety against strangers and molesters, and I think about the best ways to protect my family from harm and danger. I trust in God for health, but I believe that my actions to take care of my body can reduce sickness and prolong life, I wash my hands after using the bathroom, and I wear a respirator and gloves at work when I’m dealing with dangerous chemicals. And when there is a pandemic contagion -- barring specific instructions from the Holy Spirit otherwise -- I try to minimize my personal contact with people. Not because I lack faith, but because my faith is exercised by using ALL the faculties and knowledge God has afforded me.
I’m not afraid of getting sick, but since I’ve struggled to breathe for most of my life and was out of work for nearly two years as a result of uncontrolled asthma (which was healed by God through the use of a new drug developed through the machinations of science and technology), I’m not looking to now test God by being reckless and ignoring plain facts. Nor do I want to be responsible for getting anyone else sick. It’s not fear or panic that motivates me, nor does it demonstrate a lack of faith. At the root of my behavior is the same sensibility that prompts me to lock doors, avoid eating moldy bread and old meat, wash my hands, wear a seat belt, and stop at red lights. There are some voices making themselves heard right now who seem to suppose a life of faith means never taking any precautions, but we know that none of these people actually live that way. Nor should they.
One more thought: this situation is unprecedented in our lifetimes. Families are together at home. There is great uncertainty. Consider that God will use this situation to perform His work in the earth in ways that maybe couldn’t happen otherwise, if everything were status quo. Romans 8:28. 2020 is proving itself to be a time for listening, for hearing the Word of the Lord. We are together – at all times – in Christ. Peace!

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