Fellowship & Outreach
Pestilences such as COVID-19 figure into the signs of the endtimes given by Jesus in Matthew 24 and elsewhere.
COVID-19 has gone across the globe, affecting most of the countries on earth.
COVID-19 has emptied businesses, nonprofits and even churches in McIntosh County, America and the world. Coronavirus is a “plague in many different places,” the definition of “loimos,” the Greek word Jesus Christ used in describing a sign of the End Times in Matthew 24 (verse 7). The term is usually translated “pestilence” or “disease.”
This present pestilence is a curious one, spread more easily than usual by contact. This is driving farther apart physically a society already badly divided by several of the Lord’s other signs, including racial unrest, political clashes, lawlessness and taking offense (verses 7 and 10-12).
Technology has enabled us to survive living distant from one another, fueling some of the above, though in this case serving as one of few elements keeping us from total isolation, or, popularly, quarantine. While social media still carry much invective, many medical websites give helpful advice and the church universal continues ministry globally. Jesus said that having the Good News – salvation through turning from sin and making him one’s Lord and Savior – go around the world must happen before His return (verse 14).
My church has increased its posting of preaching, teaching and encouragement on its Facebook page, YouTube, and cable television. We’ve had good response, with more than 200 Facebook likes/followers and just passing 1,200 video views in less than four months. My Maundy Thursday service will be via Zoom, which allows those without computers to call in to hear the audio and participate. I’m every week sending to church members two in-depth emails also mailed postally and calling them daily.
The Lord, in the same breath as “pestilence,” mentioned famines and earthquakes would be signs of the last days as well. A respected British medical journal, The Lancet, declared an end to famine in 2015, but now it’s ongoing in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen and Syria. Most are not due to weather but religiously fueled wars involving Islam.
There lately have been several earthquakes in unusual places, including Idaho, Utah and Puerto Rico. However, the bigger story may be the number of those over 6.0 on the Richter Scale is up 60 percent in the last 30 years according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Globally there are 275 shakings daily that are great enough to be felt on Earth’s surface.
False prophets and Christs are signs (Matthew 24:5, 11); prosperity teachers abound and no fewer than 11 people who claim to be Jesus have sizable followings worldwide. “Wars and rumors of wars” (verse 6) are constant, and more than 40 armed conflicts rage among 200 nations. Jesus even foretold the “haters,” a popular designation in this era, saying, “Many … will hate one another” (verse 10).
I’ve headed a major higher-education racial diversity commission, interviewed people from abject poverty to the sitting U.S. president, and had friends who are Caucasian, Native, Latino, Asian- and African-American plus from a wide spectrum of political and religious views. I have helped feuding Christians come to peace with each other and preached from more than 20 denominations’ pulpits.
I have found hate flourishes when we refuse to exchange views with others due to thinking they are too outlandish, jaded or corrupted to attempt dialogue. This has grown exceptionally the last few years. If a certain fact is brought up, then some say it is "offensive" and the person quoting it "irredeemable." To another crowd, the individual might have “derangement syndrome.”
A positive result of this pandemic would be we begin to respect one another in our communication, realizing its decidedly spiritual nature. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” Jesus said in Matthew 12:34. When we dialogue, we learn about the person speaking, not just the subject. We realize while others may have sharp edges, we might, too. All of us have gone through rough patches. We don’t have to agree with people to respect our common humanity in the image of God.
I know media well, but my favorite moments are visiting in person or in-depth phone calls. When I share Christ with people those ways, I feel the Holy Spirit at work and great encouragement in the Lord. May we let God change our hearts and speech as a result of this crisis.
About the author: The Rev. Kyle Huckins, Ph.D., has an earned doctorate and taught both journalism and religious studies in universities, winning three honors for scholarly research on the intersection of faith and media.
He's won 25 awards for professional media writing and production in a career stretching back to the 1980s and covering every mass medium. For 20 years, he's worked in public relations and marketing with outstanding results in placing articles, generating click-throughs, growing social-platform accounts, and more.
Ordained in 2003, he's clergy and has served congregations and their associations in numerous positions of pastoral, administrative and educational leadership, and is currently a senior pastor. He has a master's degree in theological studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia. Click here for more on Huckins.
This website also has a blog on faith, Facebook and Twitter feeds and more. You may email the author at email@example.com. He enjoys hearing from his readers in 135 countries ... and growing!
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