Thanks to my friend Andy Lickel I belong to a coffee group on Tuesday mornings that is focused on the interaction of science and faith. They jokingly refer to themselves as “the Heretics”. I really enjoy the conversations each week because these are some people with significantly greater knowledge of science than I have and strong faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. We belong to various churches in town so that also makes for an interesting discussion. I cannot stress enough how much I like listening to these friends. In fact, the only problem I have with the group is that we meet at Starbucks, which isn’t my favorite coffee. We are talking about origins at present – a pretty consistent theme within this group.
Today, I repeated for discussion a statement/question that I know one of their pastors has asked during his current sermon series on origins. The statement/question was “you have to ask yourself ‘why did God put this into the text?'” I think it is a good question, primarily because of a verse from John’s gospel. John ends his gospel by telling us why certain things were included in the gospel and why certain things were not included (after all, we don’t really have any discussion in the gospels concerning Jesus’s favorite snack, and I assume He has one). John writes:
… but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.John 20:31
So what is in scripture is there that we might believe in Jesus and “belief” in scripture isn’t just mental assent, A scriptural understanding of “belief” is more like trust that influences how we live. To use a Chuck Colson book title to explain this – when we read scripture we need to ask ourselves “‘ Why God put this into the text’ and ‘How Now We Shall Live‘ because of what God put into the text?” Reading scripture is like a call & response hymn, God places something in the text and we respond in our lives to what the Spirit has taught us.
Basically, If you profess Jesus as Lord I don’t really care what you believe about creation if it doesn’t cause you to better lead a life of trust in Jesus … and I don’t think God does either. I believe the creation story should cause us to live in a manner that reflects that we see God’s fingerprints all around us and we see and respond to the image of our Lord (the Imago Dei) in our fellow humans.
So if you are a Christian who says with the Apostles’ Creed ” I believe in God, the father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”, and therefore believe that God placed His image on humanity, it should affect how you respond to the current COVID-19 crisis and specifically those caught in the crisis.
But instead, many Christians are responding to the crisis in fear rather than seeing and responding to God’s image. We’ve been here before folks, at the precipice of fear or faith, and very often those who claim that Jesus is their Lord have responded poorly to the temptation to live out of fear instead of faith. Remember Ebola? We had the chance to respond in faith and many in the church gave into fear.
I’m not meaning by this that having faith means not taking appropriate precautions – having faith doesn’t mean that. It does, however, mean not allowing your fear of a danger to keeps you from responding to the image of God in your fellow human. This past Sunday we at Tapestry slightly changed our normal method of doing the Lord’s Supper so as to lower the risk of spreading anything infectious. It is okay to take precautions. It isn’t okay to be overcome by fear to the point that we fail to see and respond to the image of God in our fellow humans.
We are still called to be with the “least of these” in the midst of the danger of the COVID-19 danger because when we look at those who might be infected, or merely come from a region that we for some reason or another association with COVID-19, we see the eyes of our Lord and know that how we respond to them is how we respond to our Lord. Because what we believe is supposed to shape how we respond.
I believe and I preach at Tapestry that God created humanity as image-bearers. Therefore, when I look at my fellow human I see a reflection of my Lord and what I do or don’t do for them I do or don’t do for Him.