The Covid-19 virus is dominating everyone’s life in the world now. The people who don’t have the virus still have to comply with restrictions and bans on travel and which businesses they can visit. Some cities like New York have banned all nonessential travel. This pandemic is causing people to feel like they have lost control of their lives, and that they have lost a significant portion of their freedom. That is partially true, and partially not. The control and freedom that’s not lost are the most important.
First, let’s decide what freedom isn’t. The popular philosophy today claims that a person can do anything that doesn’t harm anyone else. The truth is, though, that anything we do affects others to some degree. And, some people believe that freedom means they can do whatever they want. That isn’t freedom but anarchy. It’s also why the prisons are overcrowded. These two beliefs come from a selfishness that elevates self above all else.
The dictionary definitions of freedom relevant here are, “political or civic liberty”, and “Liberty of action”. Liberty is defined as “Freedom from captivity, bondage” (The American Century Dictionary). These definitions don’t say that they allow people to do as they wish. Freedom not being in bondage, or unduly restrained in action, doesn’t negate government enacted law that all must follow as long as the law is reasonable and in society’s best interest. Beyond the law, there are personal ethical and moral restrictions. These are more developed in some than in others. And ironically, it’s the people who have the highest personal standards that are the most free and who accomplish more in life.
Jesus told His disciples, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”. The Jews answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, “You will make us free”? Jesus answered, “Most assuredly I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And, a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:32-36; continue to 8:47). Jesus was telling the Jews in this passage that He could set them free of their bondage to sin and from their father the devil. Because bondage to the devil is bondage to sin. His setting them free of sin breaks their bondage to the devil.
Freedom from sin also means freedom from personal psychological drives and personality disorders that cause sin. We are all human and we all sin. Some sin more than others, and some sin to the point that they violate the law and end up in prison. Sin, as I’ve said in previous blogs, is thinking, doing, or not doing anything that is in God’s will. It is any breach of His commandments, even as slight as “Tell them I’m not home”. And, if you’re guilty of just one sin-and we all are- we are guilty of all. Jesus sets us free from the consequences of sin by paying the penalty of our sin for us on the cross.
Jesus said a slave does not abide in the house forever. In other words, those who are enslaved to the devil will not live with God in heaven. But if Christ has set you free then you will live with God in heaven forever. And, setting you free means that you have the freedom to choose who you will follow, either God or the devil. But if you remain in your sins, you will die in them and not be with God eternally. It’s your choice.
My grandmother had a saying, “What does that have to do with the price of cheese in China?” That only meant that what I was saying was not relevant to the current topic we were talking about, that it was so far removed from the conversation or our lives that she couldn’t see the connection. It was not intended to disparage the Chinese or the country of China in any way. The question here then is what does all this have to do with the pandemic?
Most of the restrictions on public travel are voluntary, with the exception of New York City, California, and a few other places. We have a choice of whether to follow the restrictions the government has asked us to follow. However, it is in everyone’s best interest to follow the restrictions because not being exposed to the virus means not unintentionally spreading it to more people. Therefore, we have ethical and moral responsibilities to follow the government’s requests. In the areas that restrictions are mandatory it is because citizens are unwilling to follow guidelines without government-imposed restrictions. The restrictions do limit our physical freedom and the choices we can make. But they do not limit the essential freedom that God gave us through Christ.
Jesus’ message to us throughout the New Testament is that if we are reborn in Him we are set free from sin. Christians have freely chosen to follow Christ. They do so because they have chosen to follow Him, because it’s the right thing to do. We can’t choose to stop the pandemic, but we can choose to do all we can to limit the spread of the virus while researchers develop a vaccine and other drugs to control its spread. And, we can pray that God will give us the means to stop the pandemic soon. Prayer works. It’s not idle wishing. In this case, it’s making a request to God for intervention in the problem. And nothing in this world or the next can take away the free gift of salvation we have chosen to accept from God. Paul wrote, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” ( Romans 8:17-19).
The pandemic can’t affect our choice to become a member of God’s family. It has no power over our salvation and our actions in Christ. The communist government in China tried to eradicate Christianity in that country, but the church is growing. And, the Chinese people are increasingly expressing their displeasure with the government. Worldly entities may control peoples’ physical actions, but they can never control what the people choose to believe. And, what you choose to believe, and your actions or inactions according to your beliefs, is always your choice.
Following God’s commandments because you believe in Christ as your personal Savior is the correct choice. God created this world and everything in it, and He maintains the world and the universe through His power. He knows best how things work. He knows the physics and chemistry that our scientists are still wondering about. Therefore, the best way to end the pandemic is to follow His commandments for your life. God has promised that if the people turn to Him, forsake their sinning, and follow His commandments He will heal the land. He will stop the pandemic: “If the people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” ( 2Chronicles 7:14). God’s people were the Jews in the Old Testament. Under the New Testament (covenant, or contract) God’s people includes the Christians.
But we aren’t following God. Governments increasingly lean towards the secular, worldly beliefs. TV shows like “Evil” are of satanic origin. Immorality abounds in our children as well as adults and to a large extent because of the adults who are their role models. Most assuredly we are no longer one nation under God. We are becoming a nation under the devil. It is up to Christians to voice our opinions and to do what we can-what you can- to reverse this trend. Put posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media urging people to return to God through Christ. Write your government representatives. They work for you. Witness to friends and strangers alike. And pray for healing. If we all do this the virus will be controlled. It will eventually be controlled anyway, but the pandemic will be stopped much sooner with God’s intervention. And, His intervention depends upon our intervention as His ambassadors on earth. Start working on your part of the intervention today.