To my Adventist and Christian brothers and sisters, this message comes straight from my pastoral heart.
As a spiritual leader, I am so deeply concerned for our faith family in this time, locally and beyond. Some may ask, why do you write here where anyone can see this? The reason: we should not suppose that the spirit and deeds of us as Christians or church members are unnoticed by our neighbors and communities. They hear us and see us. They’re listening and watching, looking for evidences of what it means to be Jesus’ followers.
Dear Friends, I am so concerned for the many people in our faith family who are sick with the COVID Delta variant right now, or have been sick recently. Yes, many have been fortunate to avoid severe illness, but some have not been so fortunate. Many such persons have lived by our health principles, still they got sick. Some tried the animal treatments and it didn’t help them. Some are in hospitals on oxygen, I know of some members who are on ventilators right now. Some of those are barely hanging onto their lives as I write. Some will perish.
What is so sad is it isn’t necessary, if we would all simply heed the medical counsel of our Adventist health professionals, in whom we have been so proud and grateful for through the years. Death is always sad. Avoidable death is tragic and a final act of poor stewardship of the divine gift of life.
But, what most breaks my heart, is that among some of our brothers and sisters who are in hospitals barely surviving, and some who are dying, the final energy of their lives before contracting COVID was lashing out in angry rages about their “rights,” which they meant to mean they didn’t need to care about others’ health safety around them, nor their own. Their final actions before sickness was berating their civic and church leaders, even demeaning fellow members and their pastors. For those who perish, this will be their final legacy. This seems to me even more tragic than death itself. It is an unfortunate evidence of final fruit.
The apostle John wrote: “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1 John 2:9-11 | NKJV
This is the fruit of self-serving, disregard, discord, and anger toward others. This is a blight of darkness, both on the individual heart and that which reaches out to the sphere around such a one. This is what Jesus calls every person to repent of and turn to him. Jesus’ followers are called to something radically different than this. Commanded to a higher calling.
“And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” 1 John 3:23 | NKJV
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 | NKJV
This is the fruit that comes from surrendering one’s self to a value higher than one’s personal rights—that of one’s greatest privilege of sacrificially loving Jesus and others supremely. This is a bright beacon of heavenly light that all who are in our sphere will see and be touched by.
If this pandemic, and so many other dangers to our lives, are to teach us anything; it is that we don’t know the number of our days, but we know that love and light are to be our final legacy.
This begins with treating lovingly our family, friends, church members, pastors, neighbors, fellow citizens, government leaders, everyone—even, or especially, those we don’t agree with—because this is the Way of Jesus.
The book of Acts, chapter 2, highlights a church where the members’ love and grace and generosity was so significant and shone so brightly that more and more people were drawn to the light of Jesus’ love through his followers. Just as with us today, their communities were noticing, listening, watching to see what difference it makes to be a follower of Jesus.
I urge you to join me in committing to this divine call for the legacy of each of us to be the reflection of Jesus’ love and light. And please join me in praying for each other, and especially for those who are sick with COVID and their families, particularly those who have lost loved ones.