The Power of Life and Death

Today is usually my day to publish a blog post, and I had one written out that I was ready to publish. But, in light of all that is happening with the Coronavirus, it just seemed weird to publish something on a completely unrelated aspect of faith. Right now, people are thinking about a health crisis, so it would be better to give some sort of response. But, what do I have to say? I don’t know much about anything healthcare related, so I can’t give advice on what we should do, or what our level of caution should be. But I have often thought about our response to persecution, and maybe that can apply here.

Perhaps it is because I am going into missions that I have read many stories of Christians under persecution and as a result I have often pondered what my response to persecution would be. I’m not talking a general persecution, but a direct threat to my life. What if someone said to me, “Deny Christ or I’ll kill you!” or what if they said, “Deny Christ, or I’ll kill your loved ones!”

What I have realized is that people say this because they believe they have power over you. They believe they have power over your life and your death, or the life and death of those around you, and they want to use that power to manipulate you into submission.

What is the truth? God has the power of life and death over each one of us. When Jesus faced Pilate, Pilate said to him “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” (John 19:10). Jesus’ response was not one of fear. He said in verse 11, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”

This is the verse that always comes to mind when I think about being threatened. Though Pilate appeared to have this power, Jesus knew that the true power was God’s. If it was God’s will for Jesus to die, He would die no matter what Pilate said or did. If it was God’s will for Jesus to be saved, Pilate would not be able to stop Him. We know that it is not just Jesus that is under God’s complete authority and control. Matthew 10:28-31 says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

This verse is specifically in the context of persecution! Jesus is sending out his disciples and telling them how to respond when people persecute them. He says they should not worry about what happens to their physical bodies, because God has them in His care. Therefore, when we face threat, we don’t need to worry either. God has us in His hands.

What does this mean for us in light of the threat of a virus, rather than the threat of persecution? As I said before, I cannot give any guidance on healthcare measures we should take. The only thing I can say is that we don’t need to live in fear. Our lives are in God’s hands, so however we respond, we should do so out of love for God and not out of fear for our lives. We can use this time to comfort those in fear and show them the hope of Christ. Let us be a force that dispels fear and replaces it with the hope of Christ!

“Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;

say to those with fearful hearts,
‘Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
He will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
He will come to save you.'”

Isaiah 35:3-4