The world is currently in the grip of a panicked fever. But fevers break, and so will this. In the meantime, many believers are concerned about having a good testimony. They want to be seen doing what everybody around them thinks is the right thing.
But, as someone put it recently, a good testimony is not something you have during the crisis. It’s something you have after the panic has passed1.
This panic will pass and when it passes and we look back over our shoulder, it will not be a good testimony to have participated in – or fuelled, the panic. Those who through fear or for the applause of men go along with this train wreck will find that their testimony has been compromised and discredited when the madness dies down.
It will not be a good testimony to have rebuked a son because he hugged his dying mother.
It will not be a good testimony to have silently approved of ripping a newborn baby from his mother’s arms for days on end because, even though she lives in a town with zero cases, she comes from the wrong side of the border.
It will not be a good testimony to have berated two kids who stood too closely at a bus stop. It will not be a good testimony to have called the cops on your neighbour because you counted 7 heads instead of 5 standing in the driveway.
It will not be a good testimony to have worn a mask in a shopping centre on the basis of love for neighbour while simultaneously screeching at a mother and her 5-year-old son and wishing them harm because they are not.
And it will not be a good testimony, having been set free from the fear of death, to be enslaved or to have enslaved others to that fear once more (Hebrews 2:15).
Yes, the virus is a real thing. But so is the madness. And both are sent from God.
I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies, and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursues. (Leviticus 26:36)
The world is currently in the grip of a thriller and they want you to stay on the page. It is a story grounded in fear. Fear of the invisible, fear of neighbour, and the fear of punishment for those who do not sufficiently behave according to that fear.
But we are not called to adorn our faces with fear, but with the gospel.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
God is currently sculpting the faces of those who look to Him. That is our testimony.
What will that testimony look like?
It will look like refusing to bind somebody else’s conscience. It will look like holding fast to the narrative of scripture which brings liberty of conscience and rejecting the narrative of the world which brings only slavery.
It will look like faith in God, not the fear of man. It will look like strengthening the weak – not terrifying them.
It will look like truth, patience, and much grace toward those trapped by superstition. It will be the kind of love that endures the scorn of others with a glad heart when they accuse us of going off-script.
And it will look like trembling, not in the face of a virus, but before the face of a Holy God who brought this dread upon us so that we would repent of our idolatry (Jeremiah 18:8, Luke 13:5).
1Blog and Mablog, August 17th, 2020