by Lead Pastor Chad Allen
As we reel from the effects of the Coronavirus and it’s global impact, we are shocked that one infectious virus can wield so much power, expose our weaknesses, and cause great fear. But not everything that is infectious is bad. God designed the church to be infectious. As we take our service offsite and Live Stream today due to COVID-19 preventative measures, we are reminded of God’s intent for us, the church, the people of God, to be infectious.
It would be relationally and socially irresponsible to continue hosting large gatherings amid the rapidly spreading Coronavirus epidemic. We are doing our part to heed and cooperate with the directives given by our local and national leaders as well as do our part to help protect and care for the vulnerable in our community.
So with that, we get the chance to leverage our tools, our homes, and our relationships to share a season being the church scattered all over northeast Ohio today, and in the next couple of weeks. We get to worship, together, we get to share in God’s Word, we get to give online, for those on Facebook live, you get to interact a little bit with others, until we feel it is appropriate to gather together in a larger setting again.
My sermon today focused on how we can live out the Fruit of New Life during a time of crisis, such as what we see with the Coronavirus.
In times of crisis…
A Beloved Child responds by:
- Exclusively trusting in their Heavenly Father
- Walking in faith rather than fear knowing that their good and loving God is in full control and will provide and protect despite uncertainty and challenges
Matthew 6:25–27  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
A Self Feeder responds by:
- Turning to prayer and time in God’s Word
- Drawing on Scripture more than any other source of information, knowing that reading, internalizing, memorizing, praying, singing and sharing the truths of God’s Word will provide the supernatural wisdom, rest, comfort, and guidance they and others so desperately need.
Romans 15:4 – For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
A Servant responds by:
- Humbly yet proactively looking for opportunities to be the hands of feet of Jesus by helping family, friends, and neighbors that have needs in the name of Christ.
- Seeking out ways to use their time and abilities to lovingly help those who are fearful and vulnerable by offering prayer and tangible acts of care.
Galatians 5:13–14  For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.” -Martin Luther
An Investor responds by:
- Continuing to faithfully give, and to generously use (not hoard), the resources God provides
- Contributing to His work through the church, knowing that in desperate times, the Gospel and God’s work is even more critical in times of crisis. An investor doesn’t take their foot off the gas with giving, but remains devoted to glorifying God through their financial stewardship and looks for opportunities to use the resources God provides to help and bless others in the name of Christ.
Philippians 4:14–20  Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.  And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.  Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.  Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.  I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.  And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:16 – Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
A Discipler responds by:
- Intentionally and relationally teaching others that they are mentoring and shepherding in the faith, how to rely on and obey Christ in all circumstances, even a crisis.
- Leading by example while seeking to build up the faith, hope and love of other believers through journeying together and relying on shared times in God’s Word, prayer and serving the community side by side.
1 Thessalonians 2:7–12  But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.  So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.  For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.  You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.  For you know how, like a father with his children,  we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
A Missionary responds by:
- Making the most of every opportunity to plant, water, and harvest seeds for the Gospel. Everyday missionaries will feel an increased sense of urgency in challenging times to engage family members, friends, neighbors, those they encounter in their community, and even those online, who are feeling fearful and vulnerable and who do not know Christ.
- Confidently praying with others
- Courageously caring for their needs
- Boldly sharing the good news of Jesus as the source of our hope and faith, desiring that they come to know Christ, be connected to God in relationship, and start living for Jesus.
2 Timothy 4:5 – As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Ephesians 5:15–16  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.