Throughout history, it was always the darkest periods that served as birth pains to the greatest times of revival. In the mid 1700’s, there was a growing indifference to the things of the Lord. Secular rationalism was being emphasized, and passion for religion had grown stale. Praise God for men like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and many others who didn’t see the surrounding circumstances as defeat, but rather an opportunity to preach the Gospel. This resulted in what we now recall as the Great Awakening, wherein many were drawn to Christ.
The Catholic church had cast a luminous shadow across Europe in the 16th century due to it’s false teachings and legalistic rules. But God used men like Martin Luther and others, who saw opportunity in the midst of the trial. Their persistence to preach the Gospel led to the historic Protestant Reformation, which brought about a return to Biblical Christianity. The reformers coined the Latin phrase, “Post tenebras lux” which means “Light after Darkness”.
After the resurrection, before Christ ascended into Heaven, He addressed His disciples with some parting instructions.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8.
Consider the mission that Christ had given his followers. Not only were they to carry the Gospel throughout their hometown of Jerusalem, but they had now been commissioned to take this message throughout the entire world. However, the disciples were fallible men, just like us. And the biggest hinderance to radical obedience in Gospel proclamation is complacency. As Christians, it is very easy for us to grow comfortable in the world, praising Jesus with our mouths, but neglecting to proclaim Him to our neighbor.
So how did Jesus accomplish His mission of getting these complacent men to wake from their comfortable slumber and actually start to evangelize to the ends of the earth? The answer; Jesus removed their comfort and allowed His people to be brutally persecuted beginning with the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7. And as a result of this dark period, believers dispersed from their home of Jerusalem and scattered throughout the world, taking with them the message of the Gospel.
In our current dark period of uncertainty, could God be using pandemic as a means to rouse His church from a comfortable slumber and move believers towards mission? A believe that a close look at church history as well as the scriptures themselves give us a clear answer. Absolutely.
When some believers in Luke 13 were asking Jesus the meaning of certain tragedies that were happening near their hometown, Jesus pointed them away from dwelling on the circumstances and to considering their own spiritual state before God.
“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:1-5
This way of viewing clarity in our world always leads to repentance in the heart of any true believer. And true repentance results in a joyful heart of gratitude that overflows in Gospel proclamation.
Has this recent Coronavirus pandemic caused you to accuse and question God? Or has it caused you to repent and proclaim? Although we are practicing social distancing, we are blessed to live in a day and age where technology has made Gospel proclamation more accessible than ever before.
As your unbelieving neighbors and family members call you in fear of what the future holds, let them hear a firm calm and confidence in your voice. Let them sense a peace in your countenance in the midst of crisis. And when they inquire as to the different spirit their see in you, point them toward the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You see, for the Christian, Pandemic should result in proclamation. The world is looking for answers. Use this God given opportunity as an open door to given them hope in our Lord. Worldly catastrophes are glorious Gospel opportunities for those who have ears to hear. Take heart in this. Repent. Rejoice. And proclaim the peace of Christ to our culture that desperately needs hope.
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.” Philippians 1:27-30