When evaluating the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 with sober reflection and reduced emotional passion, the best and worse of human nature has been revealed.
The heart of more than one dictator has been manifested in state governors, and other officials, who wielded their power in an irrational and capricious manner.
Silly rules and regulations were passed because those who had the power of the state behind them could enforce their decrees with force.
In some states, abortion clinics could open, along with liquor stores, but churches had to remain closed. In another state only ten people could gather for worship, while large chain stores could operate with hundreds inside.
In Michigan, you could go boating, but might get arrested if you used a motor. In California, selling marijuana was deemed essential, but not giving a haircut.
In small ways and large, people were made to pass under the yoke of authoritarian mandates.
Should Americans put up with this? The question which Francis Schaeffer asked of his generation needs to be asked afresh, “How should we then live?’
With an eye on history, it can be noted that long-ago Rome initially tried to live on the accepted decisions of the people of the Republic. When that proved to be impractical, the public was told to live on the decisions of its emperors.
But the emperors were not wise, just, or good so the people turned to their gods. The goddess Diana, whose temple was in Ephesus in modern Turkey was a popular goddess. The people discovered, like the Greeks before them, that building a society on gods and goddesses of their own imagination was a foundation of sand. Their gods were not big enough because they were finite and all too human. A religion that glorifies and amplifies humanity is doomed for failure.
The practical problem for the Greeks, and then for the Romans, was that there was nothing big enough on which to build life. As a result, there was no permanent value system that could be passed on from one generation to the next. Their gods failed the people, and died with the civilization. The Greek gods Ares, Hermas, Zeus, Aphrodite, and Cronus, along with the Roman gods Mars, Bacchus, Cupid, Neptune, and Juno might be interesting to remember, but they are no longer worshipped.
The great lesson to be learned is that a people’s world view is important when the pressures of life come. This is why Christianity is so vital.
To be a Christian means to reject and oppose the philosophy of the world, including the religions of the world. To be a Christian means to embrace a new way of thinking. For example.
To be a Christian means to abandon any hope of auto salvation. The realization comes that a person cannot save himself from the pollution, power, and domination of sin. We need a Savior. There is an alien righteousness that must be credited to our account.
To be a Christian means to place ultimate faith in God, not government. Government is ordained of God. but government is not God. On Monday, April 13, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo attracted the special attention of heaven when he said that people, not God, are responsible for the plateau of COVID-19 cases in his state. Franklin Graham warned Cuomo not to dismiss God: “Be careful what you take credit for.” God will share his glory with no man. Governor Cuomo is in trouble, in time and in eternity. It is foolish to place ultimate confidence in self, in humanity, or in government. Our hope is in the Lord.
To be a Christian means to live according to gospel terms. The Word of God becomes the guide for established norms and standards. The Ten Commandments form the bedrock of moral and social behavior. The Sermon on the Mount amplifies how a Christian is to behave. The epistles of the New Testament provide principles and patterns for life. There is no situation in life that the Christian world view does not address. God has spoken through His Word. To be a Christian means to obey the Word of God. “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).
To be a Christian means to be baptized, if there is faith in the heart. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:36, 37).
To be a Christian means to live like a follower of Christ. “But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; 15 While it is said, Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation” (Heb. 3:13-15).
To be a Christian means to confess Christ to others. “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32, 33).
To be a Christian means to confess sin, not seek to justify that which cannot be defended. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:9, 10).
To be a Christian means to walk in the Spirit, and not in the flesh. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).
To be a Christian means to oppose the entire culture in which one lives. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
The world has a philosophy regarding the origin of life. It is called evolution and postulates that out of nothing everything has come and organized itself in a complex design culminating in man.
The world has a philosophy to guide society and it is called relativism. There are two fundamental kinds of ethical relativism.
There is Subjective Ethical Relativismwhereby the individual determines what is right and what is wrong. What is wrong for you might be right for me. The term relativism has only be in popular use since 1865, but the idea is ancient. Long ago it was said, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
There is Conventional or Cultural Ethical Relativism which depends on the group that hold them. Middle Eastern countries might decide that women should cover themselves with a burka from head to foot while Western countries might allow more of the body of the woman to be on display.
The world has a philosophy to guide who can live and who can die. On one end of the spectrum it is called Pro Choice which is a euphemism for abortion, the killing of the unborn. On the other end is the philosophy of the Right to Die illustrated by one of its more infamous advocates, Dr. Jack Kevorkian (1928 – 2011).
The world has a philosophy to guide government and the economic structure of a state. The range is from Dictatorship, to Socialism, Communism, and on to Capitalism.
The world has a philosophy to guide religion from atheism to animism, polytheism, agnosticism, and monotheism.
The Christian must reject the philosophies of this world, along with the behavior and practices they promote. Cultural pluralism has been mentioned in the world, and in the Church is there is syncretism or a blending of worldly behavior with sacred worship.
In some modern churches there is something called “contemporary worship” which takes place. The practical result is that someone new to the Christian faith would not know if they were attending a rock concert or a religious service. There is nothing distinctive in dress, music, behavior, or message.
The merits of this approach to attracting an alleged “sensitive seeker” to Christ might be debated, but the concept remains indisputable. Syncretism is taking place in Christendom by deliberate design of the congregational leaders.
Does it work? In attracting a large crowd, “Yes”. Will syncretism prove effectual in changing lives when there is serious pressure put on one faith? If the Coronavirus is any indication, the answer is, “No.”
In the early Church the strength of the Christian world view was that it rejected incorporating the lifestyle of Roman society in its worship service. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17).