This is sixth in my series of other “coronavirus tests” – for Christians.
I Peter 2
12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
The sixth test arises because there are new laws in many places which are highly restrictive. God tells His people to obey “every ordinance of man,” not because we like or approve of the laws, or because we think the people instituting them are necessarily moral or honourable people, but for the Lord’s sake.
If you are like me, some of the restrictions seem a little over-the-top. I fail to see why it helps to fight the disease if I take one longer walk in the morning rather than two a day, but the rules say only exercise once, so once it is!
I do not have confidence that the authorities are taking the best course in fighting the coronavirus. They’ve already changed their plans here in the UK at least once. The story on whether it is good to wear masks appears to be changing. It appears to me that the Lord has allowed something to come which is showing all the self-confident rulers the limits of their own self-confidence. They are up against something which they’ve not faced before and for which there are no perfect answers. So it’s very possible that some of the rules they’ve established are counterproductive.
Nor is there any confidence that those who are setting the rules are acting with integrity. Not only are there sad cases like Scotland’s erstwhile Chief Medical Officer, who flouted the very rules she advised for everyone else, but there are no doubt government officials in various places around the world who are looking to use the current situation to increase their power.
It’s a good thing we aren’t told to obey every ordinance of man for the ruler’s sake, isn’t it? We’d have to try to figure out which rulers are frauds, which are just trying to grab power, and which ones are idiots! Those diagnostics might be easy sometimes, but they wouldn’t always be. However, that’s not the test — the Bible tells us to obey for the Lord’s sake.
The passage above tells us this is an important part of what the world sees of us, and of our faith. The way we live our lives before an unbelieving world matters immensely, and their view of our behaviour reflects on our God, resulting in His being glorified.
And so the test comes, and it’s a hard one when the rules are stringent and may seem over-the-top or downright ridiculous. The test: does our behaviour within these rules show that we are more concerned with our rights and our freedoms, and with not being told what to do, or more concerned with glorifying God? Are we going to respond to verse 13 above by inserting a “coronavirus lockdown exception” clause, or will we respond to it by saying, “This may seem excessive to me, but I want to glorify God”?
The answer to this test says a lot about what kind of Christian we are — and it will say a lot to those around us, who watch our behaviour, about what kind of God we follow and what kind of faith we practice.
That’s the test for today! If you’ve been failing it, we’re late in the day but you can do better tomorrow. There’s another test coming!