Thoughts from the Quarantine: COVID-19 and the Hope of the Gospel

As COVID-19 continues to sweep through parts of the globe, a viral video was released today featuring a montage of celebrities singing the lyrics to the famous John Lennon song, “Imagine,” which sings: “Imagine there’s no heaven/ It’s easy if you try/ No hell below us/ Above us only sky.”

Notably (and somewhat predictably), the secular undertones of the song’s message has drawn the ire of many Christians on Twitter.

But pastor Matt Carr (senior pastor of Back Creek Church, North Carolina) offers some insight that puts things into perspective. In a tweet in response to the video, Carr writes,

Don’t blame the celebrities. “Imagine” is the only hymn secularists have. The human impulse in times of crisis is to tell ourselves a story of hope, often through song. This is the best they’ve got.

“This is the best they’ve got.” Wow. There’s a lot of truth to that brief statement. What other hope to unbelievers have to turn to?

It reminds me of St. Paul’s message to the Thessalonians. The first century was just like most centuries before the advent of modern medicine: filled with the prevalence of plague, death, and a shorter average life expectancy. The church in Thessalonica was no exception. But while affirming their need to mourn, Paul tells the Thessalonians that “we do not grieve as those that do not have any hope” (1 Thess. 4:13).

In this time of uncertainty and global pandemic, Christians have a hope to look toward: a risen Savior who has conquered death, who rules over the world as Lord, and promises that because He lives, we too will live (John 14:19). The Apostles’ Creed states, “I believe…in the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” That is our hope. That this life isn’t all that there is. That death does not have the final say. And that this Savior that also tells us in Revelation 1:18, “I hold the keys to Death and Hades.”

But so many people in our country–in our world–do not know about this hope. Paul writes elsewhere to the Romans,

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

“Songs of Hope”

So here’s the challenge, Christians: who will tell the world of the hope that we have in Christ? Will we be like the prophet Isaiah, who after having been justified before God cries out, “Here I am! Send me!”?

Carr finishes his tweet with the words, “God’s people have our own songs of hope.” Will we be like St. Paul in prison, whose “songs of hope” reached the ears of the jailer who later asked “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:25-30).

Another viral video released today showed a man on the balacony of his apartment playing his keyboard for the rest of the apartment complex (and the neighboring one also) whose inhabitants were all stuck in quarantine. Dozens stood on their respective balconies just to hear him play. It was a “song of hope” in an uncertain time.

May the way that we proclaim and live out the gospel in our lives be a “song of hope” to a world that does not know Christ. Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria

P.S. Incidentally, my wife and I just listened to a livestreamed “talk” by pastor Timothy Keller on how the worldview of secularism is ill-equipped to prepare human beings for the suffering, confusion, and uncertainty that we are faced with in times like these. Assuming you can still watch the video, it is on this following link: https://twitter.com/gospelinlife/status/1240774816250114050

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