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Living for Jesus in a pandemic

It is written, You will be holy, because I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:16

By Nathan Decker

How are we supposed to live for Jesus in the middle of a pandemic? We’re cut off from one another. We’re stuck in our own homes. When we go to the grocery store it’s an episode of “Chopped” where we have to see, “what can we make with gummy bears, spam and a can of okra? It feels like death and despair are all around, and the body of Christ, the church, has been cut to pieces.

When I was a kid, I remember watching this cheesy scary movie called “Munchies.” Now before you go out and watch it on Hulu or Netflix, it’s not kid-friendly. In one scene a guy is trying to kill one of the little monsters and he chops him into four pieces … only this is a horror movie, and so instead of being dead, the four pieces become four new horrible creatures. This may be the worst illustration I’ve ever come up with, but what I’m trying to illustrate is what it’s like to live as the Body of Christ in the middle of pandemic.

We’ve been torn apart. And yet instead of dying … we’re connecting. We’re reaching out. We’re slowing down and spending time with our families. We’re checking on our neighbors. We’re still being church. Maybe even more than before, we are being the Body of Christ.

In Peter’s first letter, he writes to the community of faith in the midst of persecution and pain. The early church suffered from random bouts of persecution. They hid in their homes, afraid but faithfully worshipping. They wrote letters to one another. They encouraged one another’s faith in the midst of a time of despair.

Peter writes to them and encourages them. Remember, God calls us to be holy — different, unique. “Be holy as I am holy.” Remember, our freedom and our salvation doesn’t come from worldly things. “We were liberated by the precious blood of Jesus, the spotless lamb.” Remember, we are set apart, given new birth, and we have been given a seed that does not die when it is planted.

The other day I read one of the most inspirational posts on Facebook about toilet paper. Pastor was shopping, she had her list. She was so happy to find everything she needed. As she was leaving, she passed through the paper goods aisle. Of course they were nothing but empty shelves. But as she stood there one of the workers brought out a big box and began filling the shelves with toilet paper. Then she went deep into her mind with the struggle. Toilet paper wasn’t even on her list. They had plenty at home. But there was this urge to get some. What if they couldn’t find it later on! No. We don’t need it. Someone else might.

Coming back to her shopping cart, the pastor smiled, thanked the worker and left without any toilet paper. She ended her post by saying she will trust that it will be there when she needs it. A part of being holy is trusting God. A part of trusting God is returning to a place where we trust one another.

How do we live for Jesus in the middle of a pandemic? We trust God. We trust one another. While we are torn apart, we grow stronger connections together. While we worship from home, we take time to be that more devoted. We have been given all we need, God’s life giving word. How do we live for Jesus in the middle of a pandemic? By being contagious. Viruses are contagious, but so are panic, fear, hysteria, calm, love, enthusiasm, kindness and joy. We choose how we live in this time. Make the choice to trust, love and be kind. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

As you set yourselves apart by your obedience to the truth so that you might have genuine affection for your fellow believers, love each other deeply and earnestly.”

1 Peter 1:22