MCO Day 4 20 March 2020 Do Nor Covid Your Neighbor
Luke 10:25–29 (NIV)
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is probably one of the most famous stories in the Bible. Jesus narrated this story to answer the question “who is my neighbor?” Christians, along with the rest of the world, have their lives disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments are enacting draconian measures such as lockdown to try to contain the spread of this virus. Many Christians, like the rest of the population, are confined to their home with restricted movement. All this means an abrupt change in lifestyle. However, this did not negate Jesus’ teaching about loving and helping their neighbors.
Unfortunately, Christians were mainly focused on arguing among themselves on whether they should still meet in persons in their regular Sunday service, or to suspend these services. The decision was made for them when the government imposed the Movement Control Order which banned small or large gatherings. Now the argument is about whether to record the sermon and make it available online or to stream their worship service live. Pastoral care has suffered because many pastors are not social media savvy and did not know how to continue to serve their congregations online. Many pastors themselves are in some sort of emotional and spiritual crisis as they live very sheltered lives. They are still processing the disruption in these trying times. As a result, many congregations are suffering from a pastoral care vacuum and there is little left over for caring for their neighbors. It is time that churches become less inward-looking. Christians should be encouraged to look out for their neighbors.
First, many Christians do not know who their neighbors are, so this is a good time to get to know them. This is especially important if their neighbors are elderly and infirm. In this MCO period, they are unlikely to be mobile enough to go out to buy food and grocery. Many do not stock much in their larders. Christians can demonstrate their love by buying food and grocery for their neighbors. They can offer to send them to their hospital appointments. After all, since most Christians are staying at home, they have time to do so.
Second, getting to know their neighbor may be a worthwhile activity to while away the long hours during a lockdown. It is not standing at the fence to chit chat but to connect by phone either through voice calls, texting and even using zoom and skype. Communication is the first step in building a relationship.
Third, it is their responsibility not to infect their neighbors with the virus. If they suspect that they have been exposed to the virus either by not practicing social distancing or have had attended a large gathering where it is found later to have infected participants, it is their duty to seek medical care to check if they are infected. They should avoid spreading the virus by going into their neighbors’ houses. If their neighbors are elderly, they should not allow their children to play with them. Studies in Italy have shown that even though children suffer from a mild form of COVID-19, mostly fever and sniffles, they are potent spreaders of the disease to the elderly and those with chronic immune weakening diseases. Children may have played a major role in the spread of the pandemic in China and Italy.
Finally, Christians should pray for their neighbors as they pray for their families and church members. Pray for God’s mercy as the number of infected cases in Malaysia has soared to 1,030 and there are already 3 deaths due to the disease. Pray that God will halt the pandemic and save us all.