Someone posed this provocative question in a social media post recently: “What if we took sin as seriously as we take COVID-19?” I can’t stop thinking about the irony here. What if sin took hold of the world’s conscience and provoked an international reaction on par with COVID-19? If only the collective response would be as widespread and earnest.
Our new normal involves social distancing – we’re trying to reduce contagion and be considerate of others. Recently I saw a Honda commercial appeal to “The Power of Something Greater.” The stated goal is to “cast a spotlight on its volunteer teams, and workers in the medical field battling the virus on the front lines, along with emphasizing the importance of being a good neighbor.” This has been the common theme – we’re all in this together, working for the common good.
It’s surprising how quickly extreme measures have been implemented – governors have claimed expansive emergency powers, pronouncing counties in lock-down, no-visitor policies at nursing homes and correctional facilities, and closing non-essential businesses indefinitely. All schools in our state have even been ordered to remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
As the mother of a graduating high school senior and a graduating college senior, this is heartbreaking. My kids won’t end the last few months of their school careers enjoying special social time with friends. Many anticipated essentials are in jeopardy: Senior Prom, my son’s senior recital, my daughter’s student teaching certificate, graduation diplomas, and ceremonies are all up in the air.
But school is just one area being sacrificed among many; we’ve placed a very high priority on stemming disease spread and working toward a greater goal. Fortunately, we’ve embraced this effort positively. Many have also served in selfless ways, most notably doctors, nurses, first responders and healthcare workers. A grassroots effort to make and supply hospital masks is ongoing. Regulations are being waived in order to rush through development and approval of vaccines and treatments.
It’s inspiring to witness such universal cooperation and support.One gets the sense that people truly recognize the potential consequences of not changing their behaviors. It seems to have really registered and taken hold of the world’s conscience. People are simply afraid of becoming sick and exposing others. Fear is such a powerful motivator!
What if we approached sin the way we approach COVID-19? What if we were to urge repentance and distancing ourselves from sin with as much commitment to wearing face masks, protective clothing and social distancing? What if fear of the consequences of sin shook the whole world’s conscience as thoroughly as fear of a deadly, elusive virus? We could certainly appeal to the “Power of Something Greater” – specifically Someone.
Let’s look at what scripture says about sin. The opening book of the bible conveys the message that man is fallen and ruled by sin: “If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7, ESV). The New Testament emphasizes that everyone is affected by sin: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
Scripture warns that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and makes clear that we are all unworthy of God, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).Our Heavenly Father is aware of all our thoughts and actions – nothing can hide from him: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)
This should motivate us to repent! But the unbelieving world has a problem admitting sin because they have a problem recognizing the holiness of God.
If we think of sin like a virus it becomes more relatable. During this pandemic people wear masks and gloves in public and hoard hand sanitizer and soap to scrub away germs. We’re trying to stay clean and protected. We give each other wide berth when passing by, putting distance between ourselves and other potential virus-carriers.We would not dare enter an ICU without fully covering from head to toe in order to keep the air and surfaces sterile. Coverings are protection.
In the Old Testament, God’s people understood how sin made them unclean and therefore unworthy to enter His presence. In His mercy, God gave instructions for “consecration” (the action of making or declaring something, typically a church, sacred). In Isaiah 1:16, the command to “wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil” was a physical act of washing, analogous to our spiritual well-being and the concept of washing our sins away.
But the ceremonial methods of cleansing were replaced when God made a new covenant through Christ, establishing a new way to be reconciled with God: “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:13-14)
It’s only because of Christ’s covering over our sins that we can fellowship with a holy God. Because of our sin we would not dare enter God’s presence, but we can rejoice in Christ’s promise to stand before God on our behalf. Sin is the virus which separates us from God, but Jesus is our covering.
Despite current pandemic difficulties, a silver lining can be found. We’ve embraced the urgency of defeating this virus and have time to slow down, relax more, improve our habits, and consider better ways to care for each other and our world. Now is also the right time to embrace the urgency of making ourselves right with God. We can repent, seek God’s forgiveness and worship him. We can urgently share the gospel with an unbelieving world because sin is the most deadly virus of all, but Jesus is the cure.
Thank you, Jesus, for redeeming us and putting eternal distance between us and sin, making us holy and pure in God’s sight. Thank you for your word in Psalm 103:10-12: “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Amen!
What are you doing to care for your neighbors during this pandemic? How has your church been affected? Please share with us how you are keeping in touch with your church family and continuing to worship. Study With Friends is committed to reaching our sisters in Christ. As an online ministry we’d love to connect with you during this challenging time.Please share with us in the comments.