01 Aug Be God-Abiders, Not Just Law-Abiders
Today, I might touch on a more controversial issue. You might not agree with me at some point of this message, but what I would like to do in this devotion is to bring all of us back to a biblical perspective to relook at all the restrictions we are adopting in this pandemic.
Now, ever since the pandemic, there have been quite a fair bit of law enforcement, like wearing of mask, travel ban, no congregating, and of course that would also mean economic activities must be greatly reduced, religious gathering will be stopped. And for believers, even if we were allow to gather within a restrictive number, singing has been restricted. And sometimes even guidelines have been loosened, once we saw other countries being hit by a second or third wave of the pandemic, we tighten our grip again and go back to being restrictive, all in the name of public health.
Now, what I can clearly sense is that the driving force of the fear has been so prevalent and it sort of gets into everyone’s head. Taking directions from scientific findings, the norm now seems to be about being restrictive, extra-vigilant, and very much lean on the side of being fearful, paranoid, and anticipating the worse. So anyone who doesn’t abide to these enforcements or who prefer to gather for whatever reasons are being deemed as selfish, foolish and irresponsible.
Now, I have read all the arguments about the coronavirus being very contagious, about how we could be an asymptomatic carrier who could unknowingly pass the virus to our loved ones if we’re not careful. And right now, world leaders have only come to one conclusion to fight the virus, i.e. to be restrictive.
Now, we hear those messages almost every day. Well, most people don’t get the virus, but they seem to get the virus of fear from newsfeed, from social medias, from health agencies almost every hour.
Now, let me say I am not against protective measures.
I believe God has instituted scientific institution and government bodies to protect the lives of men. But come to a point, I would like us to consider two questions as with all these protective measures are concerned.
Number one, can scientific findings be given the full credibility, so much so that all the restrictive measures find legitimacy from science, when science can only tell us so little at this point of time. Now, I am not a scientist, but I grow up in a scientific world definitely. And I know enough that when science says something, no matter how little it knows, everyone will give it full legitimacy. And usually in a pandemic or crisis, the information that science gives will always overkill. It has to instill fear and apprehension first with viruses, bacteria or natural disasters which it knows very little about. Because that’s the best bet. And this is where I want to tell believers that when you lose your sense of faith and discernment that comes through prayer, and finding rest in God, you’ll be no different from the common folks. You are just going to react and reinforce your fear with every bit of negative news you read. Your main philosophy will be: “Better be safe than sorry”.
Ask yourself honestly, how much do you believe of the Word of God more than the news you read. <Proverbs 18:14>: A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? Now, I am not saying Christians don’t get the virus. But when your spirit is protected, you need not fear even in a pandemic, or even in any kind of sickness. But if your spirit is crushed and broken with fear: for yourself, for your loved ones, or for everything that is happening around the world, what good does it do to you?
Now, if you walk around on the streets now, you can easily sense that people have lost their joy. People live with apprehension. You cannot see people smiling, for obvious reasons. People are not even looking at each other’s eyes. And many believers can’t even find strength to go to church now. Why? Because they have taken science as the Bible, and we have believed absolutely what medical experts say to be the truth. Now go back to what the Word says, my brethren. Go back to the promise where you are given rest despite the pandemic. Don’t keep looking at the number of infected cases and find heart or lose heart from there. That’s not the promise of God.
And the next question I like to ask is: Can all these restrictions or law enforcements go on indefinitely without doing more harm? Now, I will like to just give a simple principle draw from the Bible. i.e. Anything that is done out of fear will not benefit in the long run.
Now, with all these restrictions, economy will take a big hit. Globally, the poor will become poorer. Some will even die of poverty. People in isolation will fall into vices and addiction. Loneliness and depression will consume more people. And now, we’re already seeing people flouting the law, engage in mass gathering, taking out their mask. They disregard social distancing. And come to think of it, is mask wearing everyday (both indoors and outdoors) going to cause more health problem for people eventually? People try to play down these questions now. Now, please don’t misunderstand. I am not against wearing mask or social distancing measures, but ask the question: “Can these restrictions be legally enforced in the long run?”
Now, I am a pastor, and I am obligated to give believers a clear spiritual directive, by first getting you to ask meaningful questions prompted by the Word. We know anything that is done out of fear will not benefit us in the long run. The kingdom of fear is what Satan is constantly bringing to this world. So I hate to see believers operate by fear. Even if we abide to the law, I don’t want us to be just law abiders, I want us to be God abiders. I want us to wear mask because we love not because we fear. I want us to practice social distancing because we care for people, not because we fear for our safety. And by the way do you agree that sometimes we may need to be in proximity with others. I want us to have no fear shaking hands with people or giving them a pat on their shoulders to encourage them? I mean come to a point, it’s really personally responsibility, rather than “Hey, you can’t do this, hey you can’t shake that hand. Or we can’t use the same mic. Remember, social distance rules holds”. I mean it doesn’t make sense for this to go on indefinitely. In fact, it will come to make the world a worse place if these goes on.
Understand this, the law can never change the hearts of men. In fact, it will slowly make men more defiant and irresponsible in the end. Then you will start seeing people wearing mask in an improper way. People just go through motion with whatever legal enforcements. And then you will see certain groups of people being more judgmental to other groups. I mean this is a matter of fact. You cannot change the human heart merely with law enforcement. The law is meant to protect. Esp with regard to the pandemic, it can only be used for short term. Come to a point, it’s about education and letting every individual practice personal responsibility. Yes, there will be people who are irresponsible, who stubbornly don’t wear mask, who don’t practice hygiene, “well, just let the consequences run its course”. Yet, those who know how to protect themselves will be kept safe.
And a note to believers, we know very well, it is the gospel, it is the new way of the spirit that could only help us survive this pandemic, not the law. <Romans 7:6> says it clearly: “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code”.
So Christians, let me ask you a simple question. When you worship God, or when you perform your obligations, as a church ministers, or as a brethren, are you bound by the written code? Are you bound by the law? Or do you serve in the new way of the spirit?
Now, I am not suggesting a rebellion, but I hope to set all of us thinking through this message. If you get this right, you will also get it right during the days of tribulation.