When was the last time you spread the good news?
What an odd time to think about spreading things!
News sources speculate that COVID-19 is about to hit its peak in the United States. “Slow the Spread” hashtags abound on social media. People are thinking about social distancing, not disciple making.
But as I read my children their Bible story about how the first century church grew, I saw these words on the page:
“As the good news of God’s kingdom spread, still more people repented and believed. The good news spread and spread and spread! The word that was preached in Jerusalem went out all across the land. It spread to people in Judea. It spread to Samaria too. Later the apostle Paul spread it as far away as Rome. Far and near, people from every nation were beginning to follow Jesus as their King.” (The Big Picture Story Bible)
During a time when the globe is thinking about slowing the spread of a virus (and rightly so!), Christians need to be speeding the spread of something else—the gospel!
When most people are turning inward and becoming more self-focused, Christians need to be more outward and others focused. When people are asking, “How can I meet my needs and take care of my family?” we need to be asking, “How can I love God and love my neighbor?”.
Yes, love your neighbor by avoiding in-person gatherings. Yes, protect yourself and your family by staying home. Do your best to adhere to government guidelines and shelter-in-place orders. But that doesn’t mean we have to shut down all communication with people. We’ve been blessed with technology at our fingertips. Use it. Redeem it for kingdom purposes. Call someone up on the phone (you can still stay six feet away!) and check on them. But don’t stop there!
Think about it. What is the big deal with this virus? What is causing people to panic?
The reason that people are so afraid of this virus is not because they are frightened of getting some cold or flu-like symptoms. Having a cough is not scary. Spiking a fever shouldn’t start a frenzy. The fear is in the underlying reality of what that cough or fever might lead to—death.
Ultimately what’s causing people to wear paper masks and don trash-bag body suits is the fear of dying. But not just the end of life as they know it and then entering into a blissful “oneness” with the universe, or even into non-existence. Creation reveals that there is a divine, powerful, and eternal God who is worthy of their praise, and they haven’t praised him, let alone acknowledged him (Romans 1:20-21).
But not only that. There is something in the soul of every human being that knows one day that same God will judge the secrets of men and render to each one according to his works (Romans 2:16, 2:6). God has created all of us with a conscience that knows someday we will be held accountable to the holy One who made us, no matter how hard we try to excuse away our bad thoughts and behavior (Romans 2:15).
If you are outside of Christ, that is a terrifying thought! It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31)! But if you have repented of your sins and believed the good news, that the Son of God was born and lived a perfect life on earth, died on a cross to pay the debt of your sins, then rose again on the third day to defeat hell and the grave, then you have nothing to fear!
A pandemic is the perfect time to proclaim the good news about Jesus Christ. People are panicking. Stores are running out of toilet paper and canned goods. Hypochondriacs are hoarding hand sanitizer! Do you really think they just like having clean hands? No! They’re afraid of dying! They are afraid of coming face to face with the one, true God because they know they are unclean! They need to hear about Jesus! Faith in Christ is the only reason we don’t have to fear death because he conquered it for us! Otherwise, it IS terrifying!
Hell is a very real and scary place! Do you really want to know that your lost neighbor or family member died from COVID-19 and you never shared with them the hope that is found in Christ? The hope that could’ve been theirs?
People are so worried that this pandemic might be a viral apocalypse, or at least a sign of the end times. What Christians should be worried about is fulfilling what Jesus himself said would be a sign of the end of the age. Jesus said that before he returns to earth “the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations” (Mark 13:10). Do we need to be more concerned that a virus might end the earth, or that there are still thousands of people groups who haven’t been reached with the gospel?
In the 10/40 Window alone, there are 6,220 unreached people groups—about 3.09 billion people who could die and go to Hell because they never heard about Christ and don’t even have an evangelical witness present (https://joshuaproject.net/resources/articles/10_40_window)! That is a scary thought!
As believers, we should want the gospel to spread and spread and spread! We should want our witness about Christ to be so infectious that it spreads to our neighbor, then spreads to the person at Walmart, then spreads to the family member in another state, and then to the unreached tribe in Africa, until they all repent and believe!
Wouldn’t it be awesome if the end of the world did come—not because of a virus, but because so many people went out and spread the gospel to the unreached places of the planet that Jesus could return?
As we spend these next few weeks staying home, possibly with extra time on our hands, let’s think of creative ways to spread the gospel to those around us who are perishing because they are infected by sin! Sin is deceptive. It is killing us, just not as quickly as a novel virus, so we don’t notice it. But it is the greatest pandemic known to mankind and the number one cause of death!
Because of this, we need to speed the spread! The spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ!