Abiding in Christ in the Midst of COVID-19

By Dr. Sanejo Leonard

The past few weeks I have been meditating and practicing lectio divina on a familiar passage in Luke 13, the one where Jesus cries over Jerusalem in his desire to draw the city and its people back to himself. In reflecting upon that scripture, I was drawn to the start of the passage where Pharisees come to him and urge him to leave because Herod wants to kill him. Luke, ever the detailed writer, tips us off in dramatic fashion to the urgency in the narrative by writing “At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you [italics added]” (Lk. 13:31, NRSV).

Whether the Pharisees were trying to help Jesus, or this was a ploy to get him out of their city (probably the latter), the sense of urgency would cause any normal person to react: someone is trying to kill you, do something about it! Yet, Jesus was no “normal” person. While Jesus was both human and divine and struggled with many of the same human emotions we deal with, there was also a sense of calm deep within him, showing his ability to remain at peace despite the fear and anxiety that swirled around him (e.g., remember the story of Jesus asleep on the boat in the midst of the storm in Luke 8:23-25). Jesus’ frequent time spent with the Father in prayer (Lk. 5:16) seems to have contributed to his ability to respond to life’s challenges with a sense of calm rather than the temptation to react. Knee-jerk reactions often reflect ingrained habits, habits and parts of our character that have yet to be transformed into Christ’s likeness and Christ’s character.

Instead of reacting to the Pharisees and their attempt to cause fear, Jesus brings the focus back around to his mission and to others. It is from there that Jesus proceeds to express his sorrow over Jerusalem, desiring to gather her children together in a protective manner (Lk. 13:34), and as such, letting everyone know that his life was not his own; his life was meant to be lived and to die for others.

Jesus’ example shows us that our ability to weather our current storm of a global crisis is in our daily and frequent connection with God our loving Father, and the deep and abiding peace we will find from that relationship. As we grow in our ability to remain or abide in Jesus and his love, the fruit from that abiding will be our ability to love others (Jn. 15:5-12). The fruit will be our ability to respond from a well of peace rather than react from a shallow point of fear and anxiety. Our fruit will be responding with hope that only comes from a God who is bigger than our current crisis than a trust in human ability alone to fight this crisis. It is only when we learn to abide in Christ that our reactions change to thoughtful and peaceful responses because we are deeply rooted in Christ and his love (Eph. 3:17-18). Being the self-proclaimed “fraidy-cat” that I am, I need to remind myself of this practice as much as anyone.

May we this day, this week, and in this crisis learn to abide in Christ and find peace and calm there, and in turn, love and care for others to bring God’s light in the midst of this darkness.

Amen.

4 replies
  1. Yalle Jiade Estelle Audray
    Yalle Jiade Estelle Audray says:

    I am really touched by this thought of Dr. Sanejo. It is so true that this is not the time to allow fear or anxiety, doubt or negative thought to reside in us. As she emphasized, we must abide deeply in Christ to display His character of love, joy, peace, patient, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control so that the unbelieving will come to understand who our God is. And so they can seek refuge in Him because this crucial moment is teaching a lesson to many who must give their life to Christ. We really must order our steps in his word more prayerfully to intentionally wear Him again and behave Him for others to be rescued and saved.

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  2. Henry T.
    Henry T. says:

    Thank you for the encouraging message, Dr. Leonard. I believe this is the beginning of a great outpouring of God’s Spirit in the EARTH. We can take these things that are happening and cower under fear or look to Christ as the source and prepare ourselves to minister to the broken and lost. Lately, I have experienced a lot of people talking more about God as I do fundraising for the ministry I am with. People are expressing a faith in God like never before. But, one thing I keep reminding people to do is read the Bible. People are think they have a true faith and salvation when all they have is a religious comforting faith that does not cause true change to happen in their lives. Maybe not all, but most are expressing faith more, but are not taking the steps of faith that we are supposed to do as true believers. 2 tim 3:14-16 says, “14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    The majority of people I talk to can not tell me the gospel, yet claim to be saved and that they have been a Christian for years. I don’t say this to be critical, but to remind anyone who may read this that people who are ignorant of God’s word, the gospel need to be set straight in love that they have a very serious issue going on in their, “faith”, and need to get real with God. These are the times when people will listen and take what we say to heart. I usually tell people that it is great that they believe and confess Christ as Lord, but that won’t get them into heaven by itself. They usually have a shocked look on their face at this point. James is very clear that if there is no action to faith that faith is useless (James 2:14-26). James 4:17 also says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” People know doing good works, reading the Bible and praying are things they “Should” do. But the thing about it is that those are not things Christians should do, they are things CHRISTIANS do. Do you get me? To put it simply, if people are not serving Christ with their life (it looks different for all), then they are not a Christian yet, just merly religious. That’s not an opion, it is the word. So I make it a point to point that out to people in love and encourage them to rewad their Bible, do good works and pray. And to really consider asking God to help them become a believer that does what the Bible says a Christian does. Live holy, do good works, pray, read the word and share the gospel regularly.
    Sorry for any mistakes I am not going to edit this haha

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