2020: The year the Church was as sharp as a marshmallow

Dec 30, 2020 by

by Rob Slane, The Conservative Woman:

IT is a curious fact that the Bible contains the phrase ‘fear not’ many times, whereas the word ‘nice’ is never used (except of course in some of the really marshmallowy modern translations).

Some websites tell us that we are exhorted not to fear 365 times, which would be lovely for someone making a book titled Round the Year With No fear – but alas, it is not so. There aren’t 365.

Nevertheless, however many times the phrase or sentiment is used, it is precisely that number more than the number of times the exhortation to be nice is used.

Yet you’d hardly know it to look at the state of many churches at the moment. There seems to be an overwhelming emphasis on being ‘nice’, which generally means never saying anything provocative or dangerous, or which could be seen as being judgemental. Yet when along came a virus, fear seemed to be in plenteous supply.

I admit to being more than a little stunned by the reaction of many churches this year. Whatever calamities befall us in life, Christians are exhorted to overcome by seeing them as a ‘light momentary affliction’, which is ‘preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison’. (2 Corinthians 4:17).

This does not mean never fearing. Rather, it means that we are to overcome that fear through faith. So in Psalm 91, the Psalmist can say: ‘You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.’

And he says this not because he’s a stoic, but because he’s just said this: ‘I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust”.’

True belief in the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ is supposed to equip the Christian to overcome fear. Yet it has seemed to me that the reaction of much of the Church to a coronavirus with an Infection Fatality Rate of around 0.2 – 0.26 per cent has really been no different to that of the non-Christian.

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