1. Don’t Feed into Panic
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With the coronavirus continuing to be a concern worldwide, many people are experiencing a great deal of fear. Due to panic, many stores are running out of stock on essential items such as toilet paper, bottled water, and canned goods, as many families are stocking up in case of a quarantine.
As church leaders, we need to remember that we exert an incredible amount of influence over our people. And so if we instill a sense of panic by the way we speak and post online about the coronavirus, our people will certainly panic.
When we speak about this issue, we should convey a sense of empathy, concern, and unflappable hope. Church leaders need to model the kind of leadership that Jesus showed during times of distress.
On the night that Jesus was going to be betrayed, he shared a meal with his disciples. I can only imagine the amount of fear he felt thinking of what was about to happen to him. And he knew that his disciples would also be afraid. So in that moment, this is what he said to them:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
In times of turmoil, Jesus tells us that we have no need to fear. He has given us peace. And not the kind of peace that the world offers—which is based on our moment-to-moment circumstances—but a real and enduring sense of peace.
And it’s not that Jesus denies that difficult and painful things will happen to us and around us. He’s not unaware of the legitimate fears we have. It’s just that those things have no power over us. Here’s what he says later during that same meal with his disciples.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
We will experience troubles. But we are overcomers. So we don’t shrink back in fear. And we don’t panic, even when a dangerous illness spreads throughout the world.
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