Week 1 – March 29, 2020: The Cross or the Coronavirus?

Two weeks from Today will mark the 1,987th year[1] since the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.  Easter marks the moment when Mankind was freed from the bondage of Sin and Death when God did for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)

And yet I have not found myself to be focused on what Max Lucado describes as the “Zenith of History”[2] but rather I have been caught up in taking care of technological needs for BVC and BGCO.  You see last week I received a letter that declared I was “Essential to the operations of Baptist Village Communities” (BVC).  BVC serves 2000 senior adults in Oklahoma in Nursing Home Living Centers, Congregate Housing Communities and Home Health Care. And we all know that these folks are among the most vulnerable to this Coronavirus.  It sounds like my work there is extremely important and it is important, but much more so is what Jesus did for all of them and all of us, He died and rose again to set us free.

That brings us to the next point, what are you focused on?  As I read the news I am struck by two central themes that seem to be dominating the world around us.  First among them is the FEAR people seem to feel.  Fear of getting the virus or of loved ones getting it.  Fear of the system being unable to treat them.  The fear of death.  The other fear among them is the fear of the effects this is having on the economy.  Fear of lost jobs, fear of lost retirement income, fear of paying their bills this week, fear of a recession. There are literally millions of people who are living in the quicksand of fear.

Having experienced fear many times in my life I can relate to it and sympathize with those experiencing it.  If not for my Faith in the One who conquered death I too might be hiding in fear of what is to come.  But I know whom I have believed and am sure in Him.  I will NOT be afraid.

That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

The second theme I am seeing is the one of the challenges of this “Social Distancing” and isolation.  Man was created for relationship with each other and with God.  We cannot survive alone. I hear from those around me and read about many others who are struggling with loneliness, boredom and depression due to this interruption of their normal lives.  God knows this better than we ourselves do.

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Romans 12:4-5)

But, knowing this does not make enduring it any easier.  To do so requires us to remember a few things.  In 1965 Lt Col James Risner USAF of Tulsa was captured in Viet Nam and sent to the Hanoi Hilton.  He was a POW for seven years, four months, and 27 days and was in solitary confinement for three of those years.  In his autobiography, The Passing of the Night: My Seven Years as a Prisoner of the North Vietnamese, Risner describes the torture and isolation at the hands of his  captors and he attributes his faith in God and prayer as being vital to his survival. He describes how he survived a torture session in 1967:

“To make it, I prayed by the hour. It was automatic, almost subconscious. I did not ask God to take me out of it. I prayed he would give me strength to endure it. When it would get so bad that I did not think I could stand it, I would ask God to ease it and somehow I would make it. He kept me.

Lt Col Risner understood that when abandoned by all others he was not abandoned by God.  That in the darkest of nights God was there beside him.  This was a temporary season for Risner, you see he came home from Viet Nam and returned to his life retiring from the USAF as a Brigadier General. We would do well to remember the same

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Where does this leave us?  No matter what has been occupying your mind.  Whether work, fear of economy, boredom, loneliness or fear of death the answer is always the same.  We have a God who understands what we are going through:

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:13-16)

But even more importantly we have a Savior who 1,987 years ago CHOSE  to pay the price Himself for our rebellion so that we could be forgiven and made Holy and pure and to reign with Him forever.  I challenge myself and each of you to grasp this truth and hold on to it and to remember what is truly important.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

[1] BC stands for Before Christ.  AD stands for After Divinity so the dividing line is the Birth of Jesus.  He was 33 when he was Crucified and Raised from Death so that event took place in AD Thirty-Three.  Therefore, the year 2033 will mark 2,000 years since His death and resurrection.

[2] “The cross, the zenith of history.  All of the past pointed to it and all of the future would depend on it.  It’s the great triumph of heaven:  God is on the Earth.  And it is the great tragedy of earth: man has rejected God.”  Max Lucado, And the Angels Were Silent

4 Responses to Week 1 – March 29, 2020: The Cross or the Coronavirus?

  1. Marlene Birdwell says:

    Great message that we need to put into perspective our troubles for today. God is still in control even though we might feel we are drowning. He will never leave us or forsake us!!! Amen!!!

  2. George says:

    Thank you Charlie for continuing to share God’s Word with us. I pray our people will will do the same, including myself. Our website is certainly a good way to do this. Please help me to make our website known. You I’m sure have some ideas you may can share

  3. Teresa Wilson says:

    Great sermon this morning! We also really enjoyed Zach Williams! Thank you for continuing to minister to us! We love and appreciate you!

  4. Gary says:

    Charlie I am thankful to God for providing you to our church. He has used you to convey his message for many years now and I praise God for it.

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