It seems that we are constantly swamped with the great issues of the day – droughts, then fires, then floods, then plague. The history of the world can be read as the history of one crisis following another. Actually, it is all a reflection of the truth that life, for all its wonders, consists also of trials and troubles, and finally death.
The outbreak of coronavirus has led to many an earnest plea to lower the death rate. More soberly, the Bible reminds us of death: ‘It is the same event for all’ (Eccles.9:2). It will come to all of us; it is just that we do not know when.
In January 1738 John Wesley was caught in a fierce Atlantic storm, and was terrified. Later, he reflected that he only possessed what he called ‘a fair summer religion’, and this led him onto a seeking after true faith in Christ.
Is life about watching 1001 movies before we die? Is surviving the current coronavirus simply so that we can go back to what we regarded as normal?
The news is worse than we thought, and the news is better than we thought. Life itself is a crisis, because we all struggle and will die. The central claim of the Christian faith is the historical truth that Christ Jesus rose from the dead, never to die again (1 Cor.15).
If Christ did not rise from the dead, life is about what you make it, but many will opt for unthinking pleasure or terrible despair. If Christ is risen, then death, the last enemy, is defeated, and death is swallowed up in victory. The great issues of the day point to the greatest issue of all time. The Son of God walked this earth, and defeated sin and death.
Rev. Dr Peter Barnes,
Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia
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