Skip to main content

Christ and Coronavirus


I enjoyed listening to John Piper’s recent short book, Christ and Coronavirus. I prefer to read rather than listen to something.  I have read some John Piper books which proved relatively dry. But given it is narrated by John Piper, it felt like hearing him teach, which is always engaging. I am glad I gave this a go because it is an excellent and time book with lots of wonderful things in it. Like this anacedote: 
On January 9, 1985, Pastor Hristo Kulichev, a Congregational pastor in Bulgaria, was arrested and put in prison. His crime was that he preached in his church even though the state had appointed another man as pastor whom the congregation did not elect. His trial was a mockery of justice. And he was sentenced to eight months in prison. During his time in prison, he made Christ known in every way he could. When he got out, he wrote, “Both prisoners and jailers asked many questions, and it turned out that we had a more fruitful ministry there than we could have expected in church. God was better served by our presence in prison than if we had been free". 
John Piper goes on to note that this is often how God works. We should regard the current global scope and seriousness of the coronavirus as too great for God to waste.  In his words, "it will serve His invincible global purpose of world evangelization".  This is certainly true. We this throughout history. For example, Samuel Lamb, a Chinese pastor who spent 20 in prison in China for Jesus says:  “Before the government confiscated our church, the church had 900 members. After the confiscation we have 2000. More persecution, more growing”.

At one point in China, imprisonment was so common for believers that they would typically find themselves in prison with other believers. Which led to small groups of believers in prison banding together for fellowship and study and then in turn share the gospel. Once these prisoners won converts among their fellow prisoners they would plant other small churches in various parts of the prison. Amazingly, there was a huge church-planting movement within China’s prisons! In those prison, countless new converts were discipled. Eventually they were released to return to home communities scattered throughout every region and province of the country. And as soon as they got out they either joined local house church or help start a new one. These house churches spread like wildfire across China. Today China which was closed to the world is now the largest producer of the Bibles. 

The government realised it is losing to the Gospel. After a lull in persecution of believers, they started again last year. Clearly they have not learnt the lesson: persecution does not work!  I am reminded of a passage in Mark 13:9-11 where our Lord Jesus says “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit".
 
Jesus wants His followers to see increasing persecution and suffering in the world, as working for the Gospel not as a sign the last hour of the last hour is upon us.  He wants us to know that He desires that all men and women should hear His gospel through our persecution. The fires of the Gospel cannot be damped out by the waters of human suffering.  Quite the opposite. The suffering of God's people adds fuel to the fire of evangelism. 

Many of us think the Gospel spreads best when there is no suffering. So we pray for God to take away all suffering in the world. What Jesus is saying challenges that logic. He is saying it is through suffering for Him that His messages will be held by the world. The suffering of God's people is like smashing the atom: the unstoppable divine energy of the Gospel of enormous quantity and miraculous effects!

What this tells me is that we must be careful what we pray for when it comes to suffering. The disciples did not pray for their suffering for Jesus to end. They knew it that will increase with each year of living faithfully for Him. They knew to expect suffering as the means for God to work through us to share his gospel. So they prayed for boldness and courage so that through their persecution and other suffering they would be better witnesses and with greater scope of reach to share Jesus. That should also be our prayer as we live in a secularised western society and grapple with the suffering of  Covid-19. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Jesus Never Fails

Many a times in my life, the words of this childhood hymn has been a tremendous encouragement. I pray this may encourage you too. Keep looking to Jesus! Jesus never fails, Jesus never fails The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails. Your mother will let you down Your father will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails. Your husband will let you down Your wife will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your brothers will let you down Your sisters-will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your church will let you down Your work will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your friends will let you down Your country will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your wealth will let you down Your health will let you down The man of the world

An Empty Page

I am nothing without you I am not ashamed to say But sometimes still I doubt you along my way I am nothing without you An eagle with no wings If I forget about you, I lose everything My heart is an empty stage O let your play begin My life is an empty page for you to colour me with your love It’s such a common feeling to be misunderstood But from you there’s no concealing You know my bad and good So I am not pretending my story never fails But I have already read the ending And your love prevails My heart is an empty stage Let your play begin My life is an empty page for you to colour me with your love The words are from Jonathan Veira’s song Empty Page one of the tracks off ‘ Rhythms of the Heart’ album. I like his music, especially this song. Sadly, I couldn’t find the lyrics online, so I had to write them down word for word. I have had this song for many years and it has always spoken me at many levels.

God on the Brain - A Review

A Christian understanding of human nature holds that human beings are made in the image of God. As His image bearers we are created by God with an immaterial soul that survives death. This soul comes with the capacity and moral inclination to know and relate to God. All of this means that for Christians how we regard the relationship between the soul and the brain matters because it affects the validity of the Gospel.  The good news of Jesus presupposes some fundamental things about our human nature. It assumes that we are moral beings who have fallen off an objective moral standard and in need of forgiveness. It tells us that death is not the end. We must one day give an account. Most importantly, Jesus who is fully God and fully man is our only hope for life with God.  This good news of Jesus has become increasingly challenged by a materialist worldview of the brain led by secular neuroscientists. They argue that science and faith in God are opposed to one another; religious belief e