The world has been hit with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It’s everywhere on the news, pinging on our smartphones and in our social media streams. There’s no getting away from it! Governments are asking people to stop creating fake news threads and blowing things out of proportion. Mass hysteria has broken out in some places. People are panicking and even basic supplies are no longer available on the shelves. It’s a serious situation and there’s no denying it.
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ (John 14:27)
When Jesus talks about ‘peace’ the word He uses is in the imperative mood and continuous tense. This means His peace is always active and never ends. God’s peace surpasses everything. No matter what, nothing can remove His grace from our lives. Jesus contrasts this to the world’s peace which only lasts for a moment. God’s peace never ends!
In this pandemic we are to be people of faith and carry the peace of God! Christians were created for tough times, for hardship and uncertainty. The Bible is loaded with scriptures that help us to keep this perspective.
‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33)
This level of peace only comes from a close walk with Jesus. It’s not positive thinking or mental assent, but a secure knowledge that God is in control. In all of this negative news we are to keep our eyes on eternity. Eternity is our final destination and God has already prepared a place for us. When we focus on the Lord and keep His Word in our hearts we will experience His peace.
‘So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Paul is giving us the perspective of what really matters: eternity! We know that to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord. Now is the right time to preach the Gospel to friends and family. It’s time to lead them to the one person who can provide endless peace. It’s time for us to rise up and be who God has called us to be.
‘The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still…’ (Exodus 14:14)
My wife wrote a song a few years ago called Calling Out Your Name. It starts, ‘To sit at your feet and worship You / To humble myself in all I do / To block out the noise, to hear your voice / I sit at your feet and worship you.’ Peace is found at the feet of Jesus! But the ability to sit there and be still, doing nothing but remaining in His presence, is a special skill. Just sitting still is an art form! It means a complete rest where nothing and no-one can take away your focus. When we focus on Jesus we let Him, through the Holy Spirit, usher peace into our lives.
‘But Martha was very busy and distracted…’ (Luke 10:40)
The pandemic has left everyone very busy and distracted. We can become so focused on trying to remain healthy and being diligent in our everyday duties that we miss the one thing that really matters.
‘But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.”‘
It is to our advantage to sit at Jesus’ feet, to remain in His presence, and to let His voice be the prevailing sound. In Jewish culture, to mention someone’s name twice is a sign of parental care. Jesus is talking to Martha as a parent.
‘But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you.’ (John 16:7)
The Holy Spirit is a gift from God. He is our comforter, our guide, and our waymaker. When the Holy Spirit shows up in our family, our home, and our church we are able to live in the peace He brings.
How does the Holy Spirit help the believer?
- Rebirth: ‘Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.”‘ (John 3:5)
- A personal Advocate: ‘And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.‘ (John 14:16-17)
- He opens the believer’s understanding to the things of God: ‘He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.’ (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-15; 1 Corinthians 2:12)
- He empowers the believer for witness: ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.’ (Acts 1:8)
- He guides believers in their call: ‘The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”‘ (Acts 8:29)
- He calls believers to special service: ‘One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.”‘ (Acts 13:2-4)
- He enables believers to put fleshly deeds to death: ‘But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.’ (Romans 8:13; Galatians 5:16)
- He gives assurance of salvation: ‘For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.’ (Romans 8:16)
- He produces Christ-like fruit in the believer’s life and character: ‘But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!’ (Galatians 5:22-23)
- He imparts spiritual gifts to the believer: ‘It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.’ (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
- He strengthens the believer’s inward being: ‘I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.’ (Ephesians 3:16)
- He renews the believer: ‘He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.’ (Titus 3:5)
- He enables the believer to pray: ‘But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit.’ (Jude 20; Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 14:2, 4, 18)
- Resurrection: ‘The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.’ (Romans 8:11)