In a video posted on March 20, Francis Chan emphasized that our current global crisis presents a unique opportunity for believers to share the hope of the gospel with others. He exhorted Christians not to allow fear to rob them of love, joy or peace, but instead to remember that because of what Jesus has done for us, we can have no fear of anything, not even death.
“We are people that are supposed to be fearless, just absolutely fearless,” said Chan. And that fearless trust in God enables us to love those around us well. “This is one of the greatest opportunities we’ve ever had as a church where people are open to talking about serious things, life and death things.”
There Is No Fear in Love
It has only been three weeks since Francis Chan and his family left the United States to be missionaries in Hong Kong. Right before they left, Chan and his wife gathered their kids together and asked how they were feeling about the move. Most of them expressed mixed emotions, saying they felt sad about leaving their friends, but excited to live in another country. They weren’t too worried about the coronavirus at the time. But when the Chans asked their five-year-old, Silas, how he was feeling, the boy started crying and said, “I’m just so sad that all these people are dying in China.”
That made them pause, said Chan, as they realized, “He’s the only one who has the right perspective.”
Because of the instability the pandemic has introduced into our lives and the fear and anxiety that can accompany it, “it’s so easy for us to lose what we’re supposed to be all about, which is to be these people who are loving, that are concerned that hundreds of people every day are dying and many headed to an eternity apart from Christ.”
With that in mind, Chan had words of encouragement for his We Are Church family and for all believers navigating the pandemic. First, he said, don’t lose your love. Continue to live out of the love of God, seeking his will about how to serve the people around you.
Second, Chan encouraged believers not to lose their joy. In Philippians (a book Paul wrote while imprisoned), the apostle tells his readers, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” It is disappointing that we can’t meet in large groups and are unable to worship together as a larger body. However, said the pastor, “Don’t stop rejoicing of the fact that right now you can be alone in your room, even if you’re isolated, and be in the presence of Almighty God…We have to rejoice in that always.”
We don’t need to be in large crowds to be in God’s presence, nor do we need to be in large crowds to take Communion. “Some of my most meaningful times of Communion have been just with the family or with two buddies,” said Chan, adding, “Let’s get even deeper during this time, and let’s find joy in this.”
No Fear, Even of Death
Finally, he said, don’t lose your peace. The most often repeated command in Scripture is, “Fear not,” and in John 14, shortly before his betrayal and his death, Jesus tells his disciples, “Peace I leave with you.” In fact, at the core of everything we believe is the truth that we do not have to be afraid of death. Paul even goes so far as to write, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
“When have you ever feared gain?” asked Chan. If you are fearful, he said, then make it a priority to spend time alone with God and explore why that is the case since God wants his children to have no fear.
Chan also had a warning, saying he was concerned that Christians will get so used to being isolated that they’ll be comfortable continuing that way instead of building relationships. That, however, “is not the church that Christ wanted. He wanted such intimacy between his children, just like every parent does.” Instead of growing comfortable in isolation, he said, find ways to grow closer to one another while on lockdown.
“Take advantage of this time,” said Chan. “Don’t miss this opportunity. This is one of our greatest opportunities for reaching out to a lost world and showing them that we haven’t lost our love, joy, and peace, even at this moment. The enemy can’t take that away from us. We love the Lord Jesus Christ and his church is alive and well.”