I’m not from around here. I’m an immigrant, an exile, or perhaps more accurately, an alien with a temporary visa. Sometimes I forget that, and then reading the Bible brings me back to reality. The French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” In other words, none of us are from earth. Our citizenship is not this or that country. In fact, the Apostle Peter says, “[Since God is your Father], live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear… For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (I Peter 1:17, 23)
Perhaps the coronavirus should be teaching us something here. We have totally changed our daily lives because of something that is invisible. The relationship we have with it has become primary. Our fears, our hopes, our plans for the future, depend upon what happens with the pandemic. It has changed how we work, how we spend our free time, and how we worship. Similarly, our relationship with an invisible God determines what happens when we leave this temporary residence. Our fears, our hopes, our plans for the future, depend upon the grace we have through Jesus Christ. Even as we work from home, we live out a calling from God. Even as we forsake our clubs and self-quarantine, we live in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Even as we worship online, we are members of the Church triumphant. Along with myriads of angels and saints only seen by our imagination, we commune in the family of God.
There are some things that the virus changes and some that it cannot. We can’t go to the ballpark, have a hot dog, do the wave, or stand shoulder to shoulder as we “root, root, root for the home team…” The pandemic canceled the season. The virus cannot change the fact that Jesus died on the cross for us, socially distanced himself in the grave, then rose on Easter so that we might have eternal life.
The virus is a dumb fluke of nature. There is nothing suspicious about its origin. It came to us and there is nothing to be gained by playing the blame game. In time, it will pass. We have now the sacred opportunity to learn deeper lessons about faith than we were able to grasp before.
Let me list a few:
1)That all of humanity is of one flesh. There are no barriers between nations. We share a common vulnerability to novel viruses. We also share a deep spiritual unity. We can only survive by learning from each other. When our peak danger passes, we must immediately turn our attention towards helping those who will have it next. Only by healing others do we heal ourselves.
2)That there are wilderness seasons in life. Like Jesus, we must isolate ourselves for forty days or so, and be tempted, but then emerge with a clearer vision about life and the role we should play in it.
3)That every crisis contains an opportunity for people of faith to respond with wisdom, courage, and compassion.
What is invisible and imperishable can never be taken from us.
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