Love Wins The Day

showing kindness

Love Wins The Day

One of the big lessons we can learn from church history in regard to preaching during a pandemic is simply this: love wins the day as we care about other people.  We’ve been looking at how to preach during a pandemic in these posts, exploring various aspects of sermons during such a time as we are living through now.

The History of Caring During Pandemics

The Church grew tremendously during the first few centuries of its existence.  Many point out how incredible it loving peoplewas that Christianity went from a small group of people surrounding the 11 disciples, to the official religion of the land under the Roman Emperor Constantine.  (You can read more about how this happened at this link).

Why did the Church attract so many people?  The answer to that question is instructive for us today.  Some of these suggestions are probably accurate: the Gospel was indeed Good News in a time when religions were losing adherents; the dominance of the Roman Empire allowed for quick travel through the empire; the use of Greek as a common language made it possible for Christians to share their faith everywhere.

All of those things are probably contributors to that rapid growth.  But another reason, one that is gaining believers these days, is how Christians responded during pandemics.  Here is one article that explores this subject more fully than I will be able to in this space.  In summary, love wins the day for the church during a pandemic.

The Plagues

showing love in a pandemic

showing love in a pandemic

There were two plagues in the first centuries of the Christian Church.  The first one was called The Antonine Plague (165–180 AD), or the Plague of Galen.  Historians now believe that this was smallpox that entered the Roman Empire through soldiers that returned from Syria.  It is thought that 5 million people died as a result of this plague.

The Plague of Cyprian (251-266) was the major big news in the 3rd century CE.  It began in Africa, but then spread throughout the world.  Historians believe that it was spread by personal, physical contact.  Half of the people who developed the disease died.

Love Won The Day

How did Christians respond?  Here is the summary of the article linked above:

love during a pandemicDuring each pandemic, government officials and the wealthy fled the cities for the countryside to escape contact with those who were infected. The Christian community remained behind, transforming themselves into a great force of caretakers.

On Easter Sunday in 260 AD, Bishop Dionysius of Corinth praised the efforts of the Christians, many of whom had died while caring for others. He said:

Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves, and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains.

The early Christians’ dedication to caring for their neighbors as themselves during times of plague and sickness, whether the sick were believers or not, showcased the integrity of their unique message of love for others. These Christ-like actions had great social impact and attracted outsiders to the faith. This kind of selfless love caused an explosion of Gentile Christian congregations to arise alongside Judeo-Christian communities.

Those early Christians understood the message of Jesus to show love to all people, but especially to those of the household of faith.  And when the crisis of the pandemic was over, unbelievers were ready to hear more about Jesus, because they had seen His Church in action.

Is Love Winning The Day Today?

love is a wild fireI don’t think so.  Today in the news in the United States there is the account of a church in Nashville that decided to protest the requirement to wear masks.  So they had a church service with a huge crowd, all unmasked, flaunting the government’s rules.  Do people see Jesus’ love in that?

Other Christians have gone further and said that Covid-19 is God’s judgment on a disobedient world.  Is this showing love during a time when many are feeling loss of health and loved ones?

When you preach during a pandemic, remind people of these things, that this is an incredible opportunity to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ to a world that is becoming more and more broken.

Here’s a further viewpoint, calling us to look at our blessings, and then care about others.