It’s become one of the dominant messages in the COVID-19 era.
But how, exactly, do we stay safe? How do we protect ourselves?
Before we can really answer that question, we need to ask another question. From what enemy are we trying to protect ourselves?
If you’re trying to protect yourself from getting COVID-19, there are recommended precautions. But what if you have a sneaking suspicion that COVID-19 isn’t your biggest enemy?
Yes, COVID-19 is an enemy. But it can be a useful enemy. Like any crisis, any situation that we can’t control, the pandemic raises important questions for us. Where is my real hope? What am I living for? What do I really want? What is my life really about?
Many people are experiencing heightened anxiety during these times. But their anxiety is not only because of COVID-19. That’s just the current threat. The reality is that we are all vulnerable to many possible harms. Death is a prospect that none of us can escape in this age.
Disciples of Jesus have a Master who has conquered death on our behalf, and set us free from the power of darkness. If we really believe that, we should be the happiest of people. But we also have an enemy who hates us and desires to rule our thoughts. He does this by planting thoughts which we can choose to accept or reject. But to recognize them and reject them, you need a good spiritual immune system. The contagion that I really want to avoid is that sneaky tendency to focus on myself, and the immune system I need is the good, old-fashioned blood of Jesus that washes me clean from sin, His Word that is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, and His powerful Spirit who guides me in the ways of love and self-control.
Recently I studied the First Letter of John with a small group of friends. John is identified as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Of course Jesus loved all his disciples but he apparently had an especially close relationship with John. By the time he wrote this letter, John was an old man who had seen most of the companions of his youth put to death for their faith in Jesus.
For John, the issues were clear. He ended his message to his flock with these sobering but hope-filled and powerful words.
The safest place to be is close to Jesus. That’s where I want to stay. That’s where I’m placing my hope.