Coronavirus and Christ
‘Coronavirus and Christ’ is a book that was written by John Piper right towards the end of March 2020. That was at a point where the Coronavirus was spreading and spreading so much. And within a very short period, John Piper was able to write a book. It’s a book that has been published by Crossway publications and is actually free on desiringgod.org a website that John Piper has used to produce a lot of his material both on audio and actually in PDF form.
Today I want us to reflect on and review this book together.
The Error of Relying on the Odds
John Piper begins this book by narrating his personal experience. He narrates his personal experience of going through cancer. And he tells of how he went to see the doctor with his wife Noël. And as they went to see the doctor, the doctor began to tell them the odds. Each time they went to see the doctor, the doctor would tell them the chances, would tell them the probability, would tell them the odds that were around this disease. The odds of survival, the odds of the medicine, the odds that actually were around cancer.
Coronavirus and Christ
Free audiobook and ebook available for download here: desiringgod.org
“This is a time when the fragile form of this world is felt. The seemingly solid foundations are shaking. The question we should be asking is, Do we have a Rock under our feet? A Rock that cannot be shaken—ever?”
Where do you stand? Are you standing upon odds? Or, are you standing upon the solid rock?
And John Piper narrates of how he would often go back home and he was constantly reminded of how his focus should not be on odds. How he should not lean on odds. But he should lean on God. And so, he concludes this section, the beginning, by reminding us to stand on the solid rock. He reminds us to stand on the solid rock, to ensure that we stand upon a firm ground – even in times such as this COVID-19 – when the whole world has been shaken.
So, he asks a question, where do you stand? In times as these, unprecedented as they are, where do you stand? Are you standing upon odds? Or, are you standing upon the solid rock?
‘Coronavirus and Christ’ is divided into two sections. And in the very first section he is asking, who is God? He asks a question pointing us to who is God. The second part of the book, he is actually asking what is God doing all through this pandemic of COVID-19?
God Is Our Solid Foundation
John Piper actually concludes and narrates how God is our solid foundation. That even in times that are shaky, he is actually consistent. And His opinion, not opinion of mortal man, actually counts. His opinion is final. And in a time such as this that is shaky, no man can actually comfort us sufficiently. Only God is all sufficient.
And John Piper continues to remind us of how God is sovereign. He is sovereign and He is good. Sovereign meaning that He is in charge of everyone. He is in control of everything – even Coronavirus! There is nothing on this earth that would happen without God willing it. There’s nothing that is going to happen without God actually willing it. And He is willing and able to actually use even Coronavirus for His glory.
And so, in the first part of ‘Coronavirus and Christ’, John Piper concludes that God is our solid rock. He is a solid rock that in shaky times we can actually rely on Him and not rely on odds.
Trying To Chase the Virus Away
everyone got a calabash, a basin, a whistle and they all made this loud noise with the hope that Coronavirus would be chased away
As I think of John Piper writing of how God is a solid rock, I think about different cultures across Africa and how they deal with epidemics and disease outbreaks. And I think about the Acholi in northern Uganda. A common practice that they have that that has been called ‘ryemo gemo.’ A practice where they have believed that disease outbreaks such as measles, you know, such as small pox, chicken pox, were caused by evil spirits. And so when there was an outbreak of that nature, the entire village is mobilised.
The entire village is mobilised to actually deal with this situation. And so, very early in the morning, everyone would probably get a calabash, a basin, a whistle, at a particular appointed time and they all made this loud noise. And this year in March, the Acholi in northern Uganda, in Gulu particularly, actually carried out this practice. With the hope that Coronavirus would be chased.
Different cultures have different practices. This, is standing on shaky ground. This, is relying on odds, on probability of saying, if we made this noise, then it will equal to chasing this. Piper reminds us that God is our solid foundation.
6 Ways God Is Using Coronavirus
God is at work. He is doing something in each and every one’s life, Christian or non- Christian.
In the second section of ‘Coronavirus and Christ’ Piper is asking what is God doing amid Coronavirus? What is God doing amidst all this outbreak? And Piper tells us that God is at work. He is doing something. He is doing something across the entire world. God is doing something in each and every one’s life – Christian or non- Christian. Piper points to how God is at work doing a billion-plus things – and His word actually affirms that.
In Coronavirus and Christ Piper he mentions 6 of these ways that God is working that I would like to highlight for us. For in one way or the other, each of us that is actually watching can identify with each of these 6.
1. Giving Us a Physical Picture of Sin
Now, the first one he says that God is at work. He is giving the world a physical picture, of the horror and spiritual ugliness of God-belittling sin. God is painting a picture for us of how sin is terrible and how sin destroys.
2. Demonstrating Specific Judgement
The second thing that God is at work doing, to those that could be infected, God is at work showing us very specific judgement. Specific judgement from God for those that are actually sinful in their attitudes. But sinful also in their actions. God is at work judging them.
3. A Wake-up Call: Be Ready for Christ’s Return
The third, the Coronavirus is actually a wake-up call. It is a wake-up call to the world to be ready for the second coming of Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus is coming back. And through this period, may we be reminded that He is coming.
4. A Thunderclap: Repent Now!
The fourth, one that he really emphasises, is that the Coronavirus is a thunderclap. It is a thunderclap for us to repent and realign our lives to Christ. And I believe that all through this season it has been a thunderclap for the entire world to repent. To turn back to Him and realign itself back to Christ who is the core and the main thing.
5. A Call to Live Lives that Glorify God
The fifth that Piper writes about is the Coronavirus is God’s call for Christians to overcome their fear. To overcome their fear and do good works. Good works of love that will glorify God. Conquer their fear and do good works of love that will honour and glorify God.
6. Unsettling the Settled Christian
The sixth and the last is, that God is loosening the roots of Christians that were comfortable. And He’s loosening their roots and actually those that had been settled, He’s unsettling them and making them free. And sending them forth to proclaim the good news to those that have not been reached with the gospel.
So, Where Do You Stand?
Standing upon the rock is embracing the sovereignty of God… He is in control of everything and everyone.
And so, I want to ask, what is God doing in your life? What has God been doing in your life in the midst of this pandemic? God is present now in our lives. God is at work now in our lives. And He’s at work for His glory. As I think about this, the critical question then is what are you standing upon when the whole world has been shaken? As we deal with this pandemic of Corona, are you standing upon the rock? Or are you standing on odds?
Standing upon the rock is embracing the sovereignty of God. Embracing the sovereignty of God as He that is final has won. That He that is actually in control – and in control of everything. He is in control of everything and in control of everyone.
Coronavirus and Christ: A Call to Lean on God, Not The Odds
And so my prayer is that throughout this season, and I will challenge us to actually read this particular book, Coronavirus and Christ, by John Piper. It is free on the website. To actually read through and be reminded that we should lean on God. And not lean on odds. The Lord bless you and keep you.