COVID-19 and The Gospel

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:15-20

The gospel and being filled with the Holy Spirit were always meant to spread like a virus, not unlike COVID-19. One person can “infect” a whole group of people. Yet, what are the preventative measures that stop the spread? Masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing, and inoculation.

Masks = when people hide their face, when they are afraid to be transparent about their life

Hand sanitizer = when people refuse to get their hands dirty, when they want their Christianity tidy and neat and don’t want the mess that comes with the Holy Spirit and a servant-life of following Jesus

Social distancing = lack of connection, lack of community, relational distance

Inoculation = vaccines work by exposing the immune system to part of the virus without being exposed to the whole thing. People get inoculated from the gospel and the Holy Spirit when they get a partial exposure but don’t experience the whole thing. This leads them to believe they have experienced the whole thing, and they are not impressed when it is offered again. They’ve built up a hardness of heart, an immunity.

By far the strongest preventive measure against a virus is a vaccine. Likewise, the strongest preventive measure the enemy can enact against the gospel and the filling of the Holy Spirit is partial exposure without full exposure.

I see this with the gospel when people say, “Oh yeah, I grew up in church.” What they often mean is, “I already know all about Jesus and the church and I don’t want any part of it.” But of course, that isn’t true. They were exposed only partially to the Kingdom and all that comes with following Jesus. If they knew the whole thing, they’d want all of it.

I also see this with the filling of the Spirit, mostly from those who have some experience (usually bad experience) with the charismatic tradition. People saw a charismatic televangelist or went to a charismatic. church for a time in their life and had horrible experiences with that. They now believe they are an expert on the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Spirit. They reject so much of the Spirit’s work in the world because “they already know.” But if they really knew the fullness of the Spirit, they would be running around telling everyone about it. They’ve become inoculated with just enough exposure to leave a bad taste in their mouth but not enough exposure to see what all the fuss is about.

This is why it is vital for churches and Christians to be “all in.” When we give people a partial exposure to the gospel or a partial exposure to the gifts of the Spirit, we run the risk of eventual inoculation. We must be all in ourselves, sold out for Christ, and invite people to an uncompromised experience of the Kingdom and the Spirit.

Inoculation

My friends and family who are now fully vaccinated are feeling a unique sense of freedom and empowerment right now. People they couldn’t go see they are now seeing. Trips they had delayed they are now taking. Teachers are now back in the classroom. Grandparents are buying plane tickets to see their grandkids. The vaccine has now given them a superpower against COVID-19. Even if exposed to the coronavirus, they have a 90% chance of not getting sick. And if they happen to be in the 10%, they will only get a very mild case that will resolve quickly.

If you are not yet vaccinated, imagine that feeling. The feeling of freedom and empowerment. The feeling of safety and security. The feeling of being at an advantage rather than a disadvantage to this pandemic.

Christians should know this feeling well. This should be the feeling we have about having the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We have been given a great advantage in this world, but many of us are not taking advantage of our advantage. We have been given an incredible dose of freedom and power, safety and security. We have the Spirit of living God living in us, changing us, freeing us from sin, empowering us to live as Jesus lived. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead now lives in us.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

Romans 8:11

Imagine someone gets vaccinated and yet still lives as if they are not. This is how some Christians are living in regards to the Spirit. Or imagine getting the first dose and never going back for the second. This is how some Christians are living who have the Spirit and are saved but who do not live filled with the Spirit. The Spirit reveals things to us that only God knows. We have access to the wisdom, the knowledge, and the power of God through the Spirit. But are we accessing what we’ve been given access to?

The apostle Paul tried to tell the Corinthians just how amazing it is that we now have the Holy Spirit.

…as it is written:
What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived
[Isaiah 64:4]
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:9-14

Do you know all that was given to you when you received the Holy Spirit? You are now a conduit of the Kingdom of God on the earth. You’ve been given power over sin. You’ve been given the right to be called a child of God. You are a vessel of God’s power to heal, deliver, and save. The Light of the world lives in you making you the light of the world. The wisdom of God for the problems of this world are waiting to be downloaded to your heart and mind so that you can bring answers that no one else has thought of.

The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for,
“Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”[Isaiah 40:13]
But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:15-16

Maybe it’s time we revisit all that we’ve been given when we were given the Holy Spirit.