COVID-19: A CHRIST-REJECTING NATION’S
UTTER INABILITY TO COPE
UTTER INABILITY TO COPE
By: Rev Peter Simpson
(Penn Free Methodist Church, CW Committee Member)
Britain is in desperate need of spiritual direction. Liberal secularism has fashioned the national mindset in such a way that responses to national crises are now totally different in character to, say, those which prevailed during World War Two.
Whilst this writer feels that it is not appropriate to liken the pandemic to the grave adversity of war, the comparison has undoubtedly been made in recent months. So, let us examine the current response to the coronavirus in the light of how the nation once dealt with the affliction of war. The virus has exposed the deep spiritual void in our contemporary national life, whereas during the war, although the nation’s spiritual condition was far from thriving, there was still a general acceptance of the concept of God’s providence overruling in the affairs of men.
So, faced with a powerful enemy in the form of Nazi Germany, society understood that military might and strategy were not the only answers, but that there was also a need to seek the aid of the Almighty, He who determined the outcome of wars. Even the politicians publicly acknowledged this. As a result the war witnessed no less than 12 national days of prayer, all widely supported throughout the land, and this revealed that society still broadly appreciated the words of Psalm 20:7 – “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God”.
Britain today is doing the equivalent of trusting in horses and chariots in respect of dealing with Covid-19. It is putting all its hope in stringent medical precautions and in lockdowns, even when the scientific foundations for such measures are, in reality, a matter for intense debate. The nation today thinks itself far too sophisticated to humble itself before the Lord, but its trust instead is in the precautions.
The virus has also witnessed our God-ignoring nation resorting to a thoroughly unwholesome trust in the State and its institutions, most notably the NHS. The rainbow is meant to be a symbol of God’s covenant promise to be merciful to undeserving men; it is therefore deeply regrettable to see it being used to foster the notion that without the NHS and the State’s benevolence to us through it, we would all be hopelessly lost. A whole generation of children is being brought up to regard the NHS as the nation’s Saviour.
Now we of course value the work of dedicated doctors and nurses, but idolising the NHS is symptomatic of a deep God-rejecting malaise in contemporary British society. It is a classic example of man without God needing to look around for an alternative focus for his trust and devotion.
Secularism lacks the mental and philosophical faculties to deal with a pandemic. Its abandonment of the reality of the providence of God makes it react disproportionately to the need of the moment. When society loses an understanding of the sovereignty of the God over creation, it resorts to excessive fear and a misplaced trust in human ingenuity.
We have seen this with climate change alarmism, leading many, overcome with anxiety, to argue that our whole mode of economic existence must be radically changed, if ever WE are to save the planet. However, the very notion of man saving the planet or controlling the climate is in God’s sight a foolish usurping of authority which man simply does not possess.
Similarly, with the virus, society has been ramped up to disproportionate levels of fear. Yes, we should take reasonable medical precautions and pursue the appropriate scientific research, but this must not be at the price of forgetting our dependence on the Creator God. To do so is to idolise science and scientists. Excessively severe lockdown policies are leading to economic chaos. The Biblical principle for containing disease, as laid down in Leviticus 13, is to quarantine the sick, not the healthy and economically active.
Many will doubtless be shocked by this statement, but Covid-19 has actually come upon us in God’s providence. Ever since man’s first rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden all subsequent generations have lived in a fallen world which is no longer a paradise, a world always characterised by ongoing anti-God rebellion. This fallen condition includes sickness and disease, and always will do. It is impossible for modern man to create a world where there is no risk and no viruses. This is what secularism fails to understand.
We are drifting into frightening levels of State control over every nook and cranny of our lives. Also, whilst Governments in the past have occasionally endeavoured to direct the nature of Christian worship, the current situation of the State actually preventing Christians from worshipping at all is unprecedented in our history. As former PM, Mrs May, rightly pointed out recently in Parliament, this is dangerous territory indeed.
Covid-19 is God calling upon the nation to humble itself before Him and to come in repentance and faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. However, instead of crying out, ‘Lord, have mercy upon us’, the nation has tragically been proclaiming instead, ‘We shall beat this virus by working together and stopping normal living, until such time as we find a vaccine’.
Such is the contemporary secular response, but I submit that there is an alternative, namely that we should learn from the willingness of the wartime generation to swallow their pride and to confess in time of adversity their utter need of the help of the one true Trinitarian God.
UPON WHICH ROAD ARE YOU TRAVELLING?
Taken from an address on Genesis 12:5, by
Augustus Montague Toplady
(Author of ‘Rock of Ages.’)
The reader of this address, and indeed the whole world at large, may be distributed into two kinds of people: those who are travelling to Canaan, and those who are going the direct contrary way. There are but two roads: the broad, which leads to destruction, and the narrow, which opens into life. Mankind are all travellers, and travellers at a swift rate. The grand point is – where are you travelling to? Are you desirous of knowing whither your footsteps tend, and toward what country your face is set? If so, have recourse to the Scriptures of truth, but study them on your knees; that is, in a spirit of prayer and with the simplicity of a little child.
Suppose, for instance, that we look at John 16:8, where Christ thus describes the office of the Holy Ghost and the effects which His converting influences have on the human mind: “When He is come He will convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment”; that is, He will, first, feelingly demonstrate to them their absolute sinnership and their total helplessness – working in them a deep sense and real hatred of self and sin; and He will, secondly, lead them to rest on Christ and on His righteousness alone for justification. Now, has God the Spirit done these things for you? Has He wrought, or begun to work these convictions in your soul? If He has not, nor so much as kindled a growing desire after Christ and His salvation in your breast, I dare not give you the right hand of fellowship. I dare not salute you as one of my fellow-travellers to the kingdom of God. No, you are yet in Egypt, and you will quickly be in Hell, except the Holy Ghost take you in hand and give you a new heart and lead you to Christ.
But, if you have ground to hope that this work of grace is experienced by you in some degree; if, on looking at your soul in the gospel-glass, you can discern the traces of faith, love, repentance and sanctification there, you are of the number of those who have been enabled, through grace, to set forth to go into the land of Canaan and, into the land of Canaan, you shall come.
Two things are particularly needful for you to observe:
That the world will endeavour to turn your feet out of the narrow way. If the wicked are so muzzled by providence that they cannot bite, they will snarl at least. If they cannot do you real injury, they will probably pelt you with scandal and sneer at you for being, in their opinion, righteous over-much. But let not this discourage you; but imitate the blind man in the Gospel, who the more he was exhorted by the multitude to hold his peace, cried out so much the more, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”
Beware of sin. May you be enabled to shun the remotest appearance of evil. Though a truly converted person cannot fall, so as to turn back finally and perish everlastingly; yet, if he is not kept watching unto prayer, he may lose his peace and joy in believing and that inward testimony of the Holy Spirit, that felt fellowship with God and that sweet tranquillity of conscience, without which living scarcely deserves the name of life. It is a sad thing when a believer is overturned on the road. Though he cannot lose his soul, yet a fall may break the neck of his comforts and make him go halting to his journey’s end. “The devil,” as one justly remarks, “is never better pleased than when he can roll a child of God in the dirt.” Beg of the Lord, therefore, to hold up your goings in His paths, that your footsteps slip not.
Yet, if you should fall, be humbled, but do not despair. May you be led to pray afresh to God – who is able to raise you up and to set you on your feet again – and helped to look to the blood of the covenant and say to the Lord from the depth of your heart:
‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Lo! Thy Captain calls thee out;
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.’
It has been justly observed that “it is one thing to fall into the mire, and another thing to lie in it.” When the Lord has graciously restored you, you will look upon sin as the bitterest calamity that can befall you, and consider those who would entice you to it as the very worst enemies you have.
Soon shall we arrive where not only sin, but every temptation to it and every propensity toward it will cease for ever. As a good man once said on his deathbed, “Hold out, faith and patience! Yet a little while and I shall need you no longer.” When faith and patience have done and suffered their appointed work, the disciples of Christ shall ascend from the wilderness to paradise. Then will they be able to say, “Called by the Lord’s effectual grace, we went forth into the land of Canaan; and – clothed with His righteousness and preserved by His power – into the land of Canaan we are come.” Even so, Amen.