A friend of mine sent me a potent little blurb he found online. It suggested that we may or may not be exposed TO the coronavirus, but we all, right now, individually, are being exposed BY the coronavirus.
Paul said to the Corinthians,
Like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
In this illustration, Paul describes the church—not the building, but the people—as “living stones, built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices” (1 Peter 2:5, see also Ephesians 2:20-22). Paul the Apostle envisions himself as the architect and construction foreman who laid the foundation of the spiritual temple in Corinth according to the owner’s specifications, the gospel of the reigning Jesus Christ.
Once Paul left Corinth, other preachers and teachers continued the work of building up the spiritual house. Some built with quality materials and careful construction; that is, teaching the gospel plainly and thoroughly, so that the disciples developed a strong faith and a deep commitment to the Lord. Some built with cheap materials and shoddy construction, so that the disciples developed an anemic faith and a shallow commitment to the Lord.
But how will we know the quality of the work? What will reveal the bones of the building under the whitewash and stucco? Each man’s work “will become evident” when a day of fiery trial comes, and puts the building to the test.
The challenges posed by the coronavirus are putting our work to the test–as preachers, as elders, as Bible class teachers, as fathers and mothers, and indeed, as captains of our own selves. The quality of our work is being exposed BY the coronavirus! What has the last couple of weeks revealed? What will the next several weeks reveal? Here are some meditations:
How deep is my trust in God and His people? When I saw empty supermarket shelves, did I fret? Perhaps this is a good time to remember Matthew 6:25-34, “do not be worried…” And Acts 4:32-37, “the money … would be distributed to each as any had need.” To what extent am I actually worshiping comfort, health, hurry, and prosperity?
How deep is my commitment to God? Have I really been a Christian outside of the pew? Will I find ways to BE the church, the body of Christ, when the meeting house is temporarily closed? Do I need to have my hand held and a checklist put in my lap to do the work that the Lord has given to me to do?
What does this tell me about my personal faith? Do I have a consumer mentality with regard to the Lord? If I don’t find a way to worship and serve God now, what will I do in a different crisis? Will I serve God when I am drafted into the military and stuck on maneuvers for months? Will I serve God when I move out of my parents’ house? Will I serve God when my family moves to a city where the church isn’t large or strong?
What do I run to for entertainment when I am bored? Am I able to fill the time with valuable service, a deeper relationship with my family, or just hours upon hours of mindless scrolling and meaningless reruns? Or worse, do I fall into sinful pursuits?
How connected am I to my brethren? Has the closing of the doors of the building cut me off from my brethren? Have elders and deacons encouraged novel ways to stay in contact? Have I made some phone calls to my brethren? Let it still be true that “the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32)!
How much do I value worship? Am I willing to make the additional effort to take advantage of live streams or Zoom meetings?
Will I lead my family when the church doesn’t do it for me? Is Bible study important enough to me that I will open my own Bible? Do I remember how to pray?
What’s my relationship to my family really like when I’m cooped up with them in close proximity?
Here’s the great thing: What weaknesses we discover through a time of testing, we may, with God’s help, begin to strengthen. May this time of fiery testing lead us to a purer, deeper faith. What coronavirus reveals, God can heal! —John Guzzetta