Word of Encouragement and Prayer from Mike Harman June 9, 2020

by Mike Harman

What is God doing in my life? Is there something He is delivering me from? Am I complaining and calling His deliverance a crisis? Am I trusting His love, goodness and sovereignty in this? Am I choosing to believe He is with me and will walk with me in what I'm going through for His Glory and my good? How is He bringing me to a place of being a blessing to our family, neighbors, coworkers and community? Is this only a crisis or God's hand of deliverance also?

Prayer Points

by Element Christian Church

When the world seems to be melting down, it is often hard to focus our thoughts in prayer. Knowing that to be the case, we would like to offer the following points to consider in your time of prayer. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

  • For repentance: We pray for the understanding that we would return to who God calls us to be, His image bearers in the world.
  • For conviction: We pray for conviction of the ways we have been complicit in seeing anyone as less than us and how we have marred the image of God. We ask our gracious God for forgiveness and trust. His grace is sufficient as we are cleansed from sin and unrighteousness.
  • For empathy: We pray for broken, contrite hearts that grieve alongside all of God’s oppressed children. We seek to better understand the struggles that are foreign to us and let those who are oppressed and fearful know they are not alone.
  • For fruitful conversation: We pray for soft hearts, gentle spirits, and self-control as we engage in discourse with our neighbors over the issues of self-centeredness and racism. We pray for the strength to listen where we might be tempted to speak and the ability to give grace because we have first received it from God.
  • For people of color everywhere: We pray they would know they are seen, valued, and loved by a good God. We pray they would run to the open arms of Christ for peace, wisdom, endurance, and comfort and that they cry out to Him in their distress.
  • For law enforcement: We pray for encouragement for the hearts of law enforcement, that they would know their work is not in vain. We pray for their protection and discernment as they continue to protect and serve our communities. We pray that the the subject of police brutality would be thoughtfully and wisely examined.
  • For our political leaders: We pray our political leaders would be moved to offer responses that are empathetic, discerning, gracious, and unifying. We pray they would set aside partisan attacks and be granted the wisdom that comes from God in responding to violence and chaos erupting from places of grief and anger.
  • For unity: We pray that we would find places of connection and unity; seeking to understand the underlying intentions and motives of those that think differently from us. We pray for a godly love that allows us to move toward each other despite our differences, recognizing we are all touched by these issues as children of God.
  • For discernment: We know that God is at work in this world and will make all things right in the end. We pray for discernment as we consider how to engage in His Kingdom work today, and that the Gospel would be our primary motivation and guidance for how we respond.
  • For salvation: We pray for the salvation of those who cannot see past their hurt and anger in these moments, whose souls are not at rest. We pray that hearts would be opened, and lives would be cleansed and restored to the grace of God.
  • For reconciliation: We pray for reconciliation between those divided and estranged over issues of bias and prejudice; where fear, anger, hatred and misunderstanding has brought alienation and separation because of our sin.  We pray that our ultimate reconciliation to God by Jesus would allow us to step towards those we are alienated, bringing peace where there is no peace.
  • For God’s glory: We pray that ultimately God would be magnified and His people would dwell in His promised joy.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.


by Aaron

You know how the kids these days say TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)? This one is SL;KR (super long; keep reading) as I want to address recent events in our nation and give us some biblical context for our own personal call to image Jesus. 

The Bible was not written in a vacuum. What I mean is that while the content of the Bible is timeless and God-breathed, it is informed by the time and place in which it was written. When Genesis, the very first book of the Old Testament, was penned, Israel was surrounded by other cultures. While each culture had its own religion and gods, they all had a hierarchal way of looking at life. At the top were the gods, followed by the king, the official court (including the priests), various tradesmen/academics, and then the peasants and slaves at the very bottom.

Because the king was the one closest to the gods, he was seen as divine or semi-divine. The king alone was understood to be made “in the image” of the god who created the king. This was/is a dividing line between the king and the rest of the human race--peasants and slaves were not made in the image of the gods (they were actually believed to have been created by inferior gods). The king was the mediator through whom the blessings of the gods flowed to everybody else. This was simply the way the world worked…and then God challenged this very structure when He spoke in Genesis of how creation actually happened. 

Genesis starts with God creating and ordering the world. At the pinnacle of His creation He makes humankind, and this is what it says in Gen 1:26-27: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion…."So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." The word man would encompass all humankind. The word for image, as most scholars believe, is a word borrowed from these other cultures: Tselem

When every other culture used the word Tselem, it only referred to the king, the one and only person made in the image of the gods who created him. In Genesis, when God speaks, He is deliberately shown to be a King reigning by royal decree (i.e.,  “let there be light” and there was light), and Genesis has an entirely subversive (yet true) creation account. In Genesis, God is sovereign and generous to His creation. When it comes to human beings, He makes ALL people in His image, not just the king. In the image (Tselem) of God, God created all human beings.

This statement in Genesis should be the single most world-changing statement about human dignity, worth, and equality ever recorded. We should live and bet all of our lives, all of society, whether somebody thinks of themselves as a believer or not, on the truth that Genesis just spoke. Imagine what it would do to the hearts of peasants and slaves to be told that they too were created in the tselem, in the image, of the one great God.

Male and female.
Slaves and peasants.
All races.
Made in God's very image. 

This is why the Scriptures are so important for Christians to know and live out. In the wake of this pandemic, with all of us feeling on edge, acts of violence have again been perpetrated against those deemed “less than.” I struggle, as a middle-class, white, California male, to find any words that could help the situation our country finds itself in (again). A friend of mine reminded me today, though, that I don’t have to say anything, and when I do, I can speak for Element as a body of believers. God has allowed me to be a shepherd, under His leadership, of a body of people. As that Shepherd I will speak and remind us of the Gospel—the unchanging truths that are just as relevant to our confused world as when they were originally written. 

We are all made in the image of God. The word Tselem is also a word that is sometimes translated as images or idols. In every ancient religion, they would have images of their gods carved into stone, clay, bronze, and gold. The God of the Bible clearly says that His people were never to make images of Him because humankind was to be His image bearers. Whenever we see any person on this planet being abused, torn down, or humiliated, it should make us sick because the image of God is being desecrated. Think of how we feel when we see someone vandalize or loot a building during a riot, do we feel an infinitely deeper anguish when the image of God in others is destroyed before our very eyes?

I was listening to a couple people talk about what happened to George Floyd last weekend, and one of them said, “What makes it even more sad is that he was a Christian.” Why should George Floyd believing in Jesus make it more tragic? Is it because we start to think he deserved it less because he had qualities that we would define as redeeming? Until we realize it is tragic simply because an image bearer of God was treated this way, apart from color, lifestyle, or beliefs, these types of things will continue to happen because of color, lifestyle, or beliefs.

Most people who are racists don’t think they are racists. Most people who are intolerant of others don’t realize they are intolerant. I know people who think they are the epitome of peace and love and want our president to die (horribly). I know people who think they are levelheaded, compassionate, and able to fairly look at any issue, and yet they find those who disagree with them as shallow, shortsighted, and stupid. We all do it; we must be willing to see our own biases, and we also must be willing to stand up for the image of God in others or we are not acting as image bearers of God.

May we begin to live as a community of people who understand that our hope of salvation is not based upon how good, smart, or put together we are. Our only hope is in Jesus’ death to remove our sin-soaked, callous hearts and His resurrection that restores us to life. A people saved by His grace, not our own. A community that treats everyone else as image bearers of God. Nobody on top, nobody on the bottom. Where the richest person treats the poorest person with honor and respect simply because we see one another as God sees us. As Billy Graham said, “The ground is level at the foot of the Cross.” 

May we be a community where the powerful see those with no power and treat them like a child of a King. Where young and old, black and white, male and female, and everything in between come together in love. It must be more than Facebook posts, or Instagram memes, or blog posts on websites (like this one). We must be a people who truly understand who other people are because of creation. Frederick Buechner is now 93 and has loved Jesus most of his life. He writes many things that stick with me throughout the years that speak of compassion and understanding. He says, “Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It's the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” Too often we can look at the news as a spectacle but don’t allow it to touch us…and it must touch us if we are to understand the image of God in others.

We must at least try to understand why there is so much fear and anger that have lodged side-by-side in a community who feels they have not been given a voice. Buechner writes, “If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.” When Jesus speaks of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, He intended for us to identify with and to understand the racially outcast (it was how Israel viewed the Samaritans). Luke 10:36-37 Jesus asked “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

I really don’t know what it looks like for all of you, but Element must be a place where we honor the image of God in others, show mercy, identify with the outcast and marginalized, and stand for righteousness in the face of injustice. Again, Buechner writes, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” May our gladness be found in the Gospel and may that gladness feed the world’s hunger to comprehend that we are made by God, for His glory, and ultimately, we belong to Him. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. May we glorify God by processing these events deeply and seeking what He longs to teach us in moments like these. Let those moments then lead us to action on behalf of all image bearers.


Announcement: Element Re-Opening Plan as of May 27, 2020

by Element Christian Church

We had a meeting last night with certain key leaders from Element to discuss our next couple of weeks and what they look like. We talked about how to logistically honor Jesus, our county/state regulations, and you (as those who attend Element). What we have decided to do is continue livestreaming services with a few modifications:

  • This Sunday, May 31, will remain only Livestreamed as we have the past several weeks – nothing in person (and nothing personal – haha).
  • Next Sunday, June 7, we will Livestream all three services AND:
    • Open the building at the 11am service if you want to come and watch the pre-recorded service together in the sanctuary at Element (again, we can only have 75 people inside with social distancing).
    • At that 11am service we will have an outside viewing area where you can bring your own lawn chairs and socially distance in the fresh air (but again, there will be no children’s programs per county/state requirements so you will need to ‘police’ your own children).
    • We will release our guidelines for attending in person by next Wednesday.
  • The third Sunday, June 14, we will reassess the week before (after the state/county reassess) but most likely work on how to get more people to be able to meet together, and hopefully have more direction on children’s classes.

We are hoping you understand our position as we work towards opening in a way that honors who we are as community that loves Jesus and people. Unfortunately, our facility doesn’t have large enough extra rooms to accommodate taking all of us (and our kids) with 6 feet of space to make ‘normal’ services possible.

Questions? Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ministry Spotlight: Royal Family Kids Interview

by Element Christian Church

Learn more about our local chapter of Royal Family Kid from the co-directors who run it: Jan, Diane and Eric. Interview by Justine.

For more information, check out their website: https://santamaria.royalfamilykids.org
Or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Word of Encouragement and Prayer from Mike Harman May 12, 2020

by Mike Harman

Reading from2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Replay: Element Elders Discuss: Covid19 & The Church’s Response

by Element Christian Church

Our Elders, Mike Harman, Aaron Carlberg, and Eric Djafroodi, gathered to answer some questions recently asked to Element surrounding COVID-19. Listen to their responses both as individuals and for Element as an organization. The questions/topics discussed were:

- The Bible instructs us to not give up meeting with the believers, and the Constitution guarantees the freedom of peaceful gathering of people as well as the freedom of religion (without the interference of government). Do you feel this has been jeopardized and if so, when as Christians and if ever, do we choose not to regard the Governors orders.
- How do you feel about a possible mandatory COVID vaccination?
- How does the great commission look for us in these times? To all nations and people. (What is “the great commission”)
- When will Element start meeting in person again?

If you have questions from this video, email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Get to Know: Interview with Lindsey Martino

by Element Christian Church

Get to know Lindsay, who has been a part of the Element Church family for several years, as Michael interviews her. You may not know her story, so we thought we would have her share it! We hope you are encouraged by her attitude towards life like we have been.

If you wish to send her a note of encouragement, you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mail us and we deliver it for you:

Element Church
4890 Bethany Lane
Santa Maria, CA 93455

Word of Encouragement and Prayer from Mike Harman April 28, 2020

by Mike Harman

Reading from Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Word of Encouragement and Prayer from Mike Harman April 21, 2020

by Mike Harman

Reading from Romans 8:35-39 (NLT)

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Coronavirus Stew

by Aaron

When I was growing up we didn’t have a lot of money, which in turn made my mother buy whatever protein was on sale (usually a roast of some sort). I cannot tell you how often we had pot roast growing up. Many people I speak to love pot roast; personally, I hate it because it was the one thing we had all the time (well, that and meatloaf). I remember one time my stepfather made the meatloaf and essentially took a pound of ground beef, poured ketchup on it, and baked it. Did I mention I don’t like meatloaf either? If there was ever anything left after the end of a few days of potroast or meatloaf leftovers in the refrigerator, it got turned into a stew (by the way, I don’t like stew either).

Apparently, stews can be made from just about anything.. You throw it in a crockpot, or something, mix it all up with a little liquid, and boom…the shelf-life of what you were about to throw away has magically been extended. You may be wondering why I am rambling about stews or meatloaf when the title of this blog says “coronavirus”…well, I have noticed many people making stew from a lot of things in their life right now, rather than tossing out what should be considered garbage.

Metaphors aside, what I mean is that during this season of spending most of our time alone or locked in our homes, we have a tendency to stew (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) on issues more than usual. We may find that little slights and hurts we would have let go a few weeks ago, now seem to sit and steep (like a teabag in water) in our hearts. Something that we may have processed through and discarded as being a misunderstanding, suddenly has more weight as we begin to ruminate on it. What accounts for this change?

A few short weeks ago, when we could interact with others on a normative level, we could (hopefully) process through slights, hurts, mistakes, and mix-ups. I know many people don’t and still make stew in the ‘normal world’ as well, but it is easier for most of us to process when we can do so face-to-face. I have come across people recently who are dealing with interpersonal issues that, at one time, would have not even been on their radar…and I believe it stems from our closed-off lives from each other. In keeping with my metaphor, it’s also important to understand that these strange circumstances have created a pressure cooker of an environment for many of us. We’re faced with the stressors of a harmful illness, financial insecurity, loneliness, disruption in our normal routine, and challenges in our family roles. The weight of these things can color our perception in a way where we are much slower to extend patience and grace to the people around us.

While I am not calling for us to break county regulations and start gathering, I am asking that all of us strive to be a little more connected. Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! Yes, our unity is easier when we are together in person, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be unified even in social distancing. The technology we have today that allows us to be connected in these moments is amazing, and if you feel yourself getting worked up, making some sort of stew in your heart, reach of out to someone for some interpersonal interaction. Take stock of how the coronavirus has affected you and remember that it may be affecting others in similar, or even more difficult, ways.

Heb 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Thess 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. Some of us need encouragement now more than ever, as we are in an unprecedented season of life. Please don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you if you need encouragement and remember to be a source of encouragement to others.

Believe me, I understand the frustration of wanting to be out and enjoying normal life again. I too feel the weight of little things that sit upon my heart in overbearing ways. What has started to happen in my heart, though, is a greater appreciation for the little interactions I have always had and yet taken for granted. 

My encouragement for you, in this stage of our isolation, is to not make stew in your heart when feeling let down or misunderstood by others. If anything, reach out and talk to those around you via Zoom, Teams, Facetime, Messenger, or whatever app you use, because nine out of ten times if we don’t, we will find we were making stew instead of learning to “dwell in unity.”


Word of Encouragement and Prayer from Jonathan Whitaker

by Jonathan Whitaker

Reading from Matthew 6:25-34

Do Not Be Anxious

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

God’s Purposes, Our Good

by Kelly Borjas

We are 2.5 weeks into “quarantine mode,” and I figured it was time for me to pause and reflect (writing is always my way of doing that). Usually when I write a blog, I am introspective on a circumstance or aspect of my life. This is a rare situation where the entire world collectively is experiencing the same issue I am, however, this one pandemic impacts each of us differently.

  • Healthcare workers must take care of sick patients, potentially endangering themselves.
  • Essential businesses and employees go to work, increasing chances of exposure to the virus.
  • Parents have become instant homeschoolers, many still trying to work.
  • Small businesses have the pressure of paying employees with uncertainty of future business.
  • Restaurants have had to change how to do business.
  • Many are being laid off.
  • Children must cope with disappointment: school canceled, birthday parties canceled.

Life as we all know it has drastically changed. Family members and friends may get Coronavirus. The list could go on, as no person or business or entity is unaffected by this pandemic.

My mentality has swung from attempting to enjoy the break from so much of life, to wondering what news reports to believe. I have to fight the fear of future business and financial security, and battle tears with my 6-year-old because he misses his friends. I had to take Facebook off my phone because the negativity permeated too many of my thoughts. How dangerous is the virus itself? How long will this last? Will we get it? My perspective has gone from how to approach this situation as a whole, to how to fight and pray for peace daily (sometimes moment by moment). In one day, I’ll fluctuate between gratitude for our beautiful world and my family: time together, bike rides, neighbors outside and smiling, the meals we have, to heart-palpitating fear that we are stuck like this indefinitely. Patience is tested for my family as we are all together, all the time. Last Sunday we tried to live stream church services when we had two kids start throwing tantrums; in the end we went outside and had our own family church service that was simple and authentic (as my son told the story of Noah’s ark, I had a new appreciation for being stuck on a boat for 40 days!)

I often try to ask what God is teaching me in a particular situation. I found myself today trying to ask that question but was stumped as to the answer because we are ALL in this situation. What is God teaching us? Is it a lesson for humanity in general? Is it some great wake up call? I don’t have answers to these questions.

As I prayed, I was reminded of one of my favorite verses: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).” Sometimes people like to quote this verse with the idea that all things will all work out the way we want (Riches! A nice house! Business success! Whatever else we want!). This is one of the greatest promises of Scripture, but it doesn’t mean we get what we want. I may not have financial security. I may not live to old age. I will lose people I care about at some point in life. So what is our “good” as Christians? It is this: God can and will use all things to work together to make us more like Him, to draw us closer to Him for His purpose. The “good” we have been promised it Jesus.

Our hope is in Jesus. In fact, on my morning run, I literally ran across a sidewalk--chalked verse of Psalm 52:5 “My soul rests in God; my hope comes from him.” I have no idea who placed that there, but the truth and encouragement brought a smile to my face. A ray of hope in a bleak world. This world is temporary; He is eternal. Circumstances change; God never changes. That is our hope, and as our circumstances force us to face our own mortality and the uncertainty around us, we are reminded what is certain, and God is using all these things to work together for our good, and His purposes.


Word of Encouragement and Prayer from Mike Harman

by Mike Harman

Reading from Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Another Coronavirus Blog?

by Aaron

Please forgive me if you think I am hopping on the pandemic bandwagon of the Coronavirus. Everyone is talking about this (many with very different views) and it needs to be addressed from Element because we are getting lots of advice from lots of people. There was a great article on the Gospel Coalition website recently by Joe Carter where he quotes a scientific American article from Bill Hanage and Marc Lipsitch that speaks of 3 levels of information:

A. What we know to be true – where infection is, how it is spread.
B. What we think is true – interpretation of facts and transmission of those interpretations.
C. Opinions and speculation – what they call “the effects of extreme social distancing.”

Carter writes, “In talking about this issue, we should make every attempt to base our opinion on category A, be hesitant about putting too much weight on category B, and be clear when we are referring to category C.” Our goal at Element as we prayerfully make decisions and respond is to utilize the above criteria.

Whether or not the current situation is defined as an outbreak, epidemic, or pandemic will change depending on who you get your information from (different organization define pandemic differently). Shutting things completely down may work in an outbreak or epidemic stage, but during a pandemic it could hurt more people as goods and services can’t get to those who need them the most. A Gospel-centered response must assert itself in the midst of fear…which is what I want to talk about.

Believers in Jesus are living in the same level of anxiety and fear as everyone else, meaning we are sharing the response of others to what is often merely “opinions and speculation.” Please don’t misunderstand me, there are precautions that should take place (Element is starting to take some of those), but we must also be Gospel focused in whatever our response becomes. 1 John 4:18-21 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Between 250 and 270 A.D. a plague devastated the Roman Empire to the point that upwards of 5,000 people died every day (it was called the Plague of Cyprian). Eric Metaxas notes that, “The plague coincided with the first empire-wide persecution of Christians under the emperor Decius. Not surprisingly, Decius and other enemies of the Church blamed Christians for the plague.” That claim obviously wasn’t true because Christians died from it…and unlike everybody else, they cared for the victims of the plague, including their non-believing neighbors.

Throughout church history Christians have had the opposite reaction to pandemics than the rest of the world. Historically, they have run towards them to offer healing and hope amidst the fear and chaos. This is documented with the Antonine Plague, the Black Plague, and even Ebola. Rodney Stark wrote, "Christians stayed in the afflicted cities when pagan leaders, including physicians, fled.” Metaxas quotes Candida Moss, a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Notre Dame, that an "epidemic that seemed like the end of the world actually promoted the spread of Christianity." By their actions in the face of possible death, Christians showed their neighbors that "Christianity is worth dying for."

Today we are centuries, and in some cases millennia, removed from these plagues, and yet the same truth of Christ’s rescue of us should remain preeminent in how we ultimately handle outbreaks like Covid-19. The people who are hit hardest are the elderly who cannot get out of their homes as easily as they used to. While we should be careful not to spread the virus, we should also understand that love calls us to reach out and check on those most vulnerable around us. This may look different depending on your neighborhood, and could include a myriad of things from sharing from a stockpile of toilet paper, offering to run an errand for someone, delivering a meal, or simply calling someone who may need comfort in isolation. We follow the Holy Spirit’s guiding because God’s love for us should prompt us to run toward people--even as everyone else runs away. Running toward the less fortunate confounds those in the world who think it is strictly a government’s or NGO’s job to help people. Many times governmental agencies give up just when people need help the most.

Please understand both what I am saying and not saying. Yes, take precautions, but don’t let whatever happens in this world override God’s call in our lives to love another. We are to be driven first and foremost by the Gospel and God’s intervening rescue of us. Social media can stir you up to believe all sorts of things, but like Hanage and Lipsitch say in their post, “The virus does not read news articles and doesn’t care about Twitter.” 

Let us be those who care for those around us in love and not fearful reaction.