During our COVID-19 shutdown, Pastor Zekveld plans to provide a personal reflection each weekday.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength. And love your neighbour as yourself. These two commandments fulfill God’s law and they drive every true Christian.
But love gets tested under pressure. We are all being tested right now to trust God fully and to love our neighbour sacrificially. Crises can bring the best – and the worst – out of us.
It’s deeply disturbing to see how badly and bizarrely we can behave in a time of crisis. When we really need to support one another, we often follow the impulse to serve ourselves at the expense of others.
We see that in price-gouging practices during the coronavirus crisis.
- Companies are hoarding materials needed for medical supplies in order to sell them at high prices in a shortage.
- One dentist’s office order of hygiene masks was cancelled and the office was told by the company to re-order. When the office did so immediately, the company had jacked-up the price of the masks by 500%.
- Another company was charging $149 USD for two small bottles of hand sanitizer, and $44.25, plus over $14 shipping, for one container of Clorox wipes.
- Amazon.com had to remove or block more than a million products on its platform for price-gouging and for deceiving the public.
- One man ordered 3 boxes of N95 masks on eBay for $62USD only to discover that each box contained only one mask. [for these examples, see Jessica Guynn and Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, Mar 4, 2020]
- Many members of the US Congress want to hijack an emergency stimulus bill by adding their own pet porkbarrel projects like abortion funding and green energy.
And what about panic buying? People rush frantically to empty the store shelves of essential and non-essential products before their neighbours can get to them.
A friend of mine is reluctant to return to his local No-Frills store because he witnessed an all-out brawl between two grown men fighting over the last two boxes of wipes.
And what about the craziness of hoarding toilet paper? The psychology of this behaviour is sad. One journalist calls it retail therapy. When people go out and purchase armloads of toilet paper they feel like they’re doing something meaningful to gain some control in a world that feels out of control.
She quotes consumer researcher Kit Yarrow:
The antidote to anxiety is always control. And since we can’t really control the track of this disease, we turn to what we can control, and that’s why people are shopping. It’s like, ‘well, I feel like I’m doing something, I feel like I’m preparing. I feel like I’m taking control of the thing I can control, which is stocking up.’ [Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, March 24 2020]Kit Yarrow
Others respond to the coronavirus with callous indifference. “The world is over-populated,” they say, “This is Mother Nature’s way of cleaning up.”
Some think that old and sick people should just get out of the way so the rest of us can carry on with our ordinary lives.
Thankfully there are stories of heroism as well and maybe we can chronicle some of these later as they get told. Some companies, for example, are working hard to redirect their product lines to create medical supplies at a reasonable price. One pizza-shop owner in New Jersey took out a $50,000.00 line-of-credit from his bank to pay his employees in case of lay-offs.
As Christians, we see in this crooked coronavirus craziness the Bible’s truth that man’s sinful heart is directed toward himself, against the Lord and against his neighbour. How desperate is our need of a new heart. We must remember that the worst virus of all is sin. Even as Christians who have been redeemed from the sin-virus, we are still tempted to fall back into these old patterns of life.
Let’s view the coronavirus crisis as a huge calling and opportunity from God to show love for God and for our neighbour. Not only do we refuse to brawl in the super-market aisle over wipes, but we also call our neighbour and ask, “I’m going to the store for a few things. Do you need anything?”
May Christ’s love fill us and overflow from us especially when we’re under pressure in times of testing! Think of creative ways, especially when your kids are home from school, to serve one another, like: holding a sign with a precious promise of Scripture in front of a senior’s front window; making and sending a card to a young Mom; asking your senior neighbours if you can get groceries for them; or letting somebody go in front of you in the line-up for eggs at the grocery store. There are many ways to love!
When we love our neighbour, we show the love of God that He has given to us. He gave His love to us in Jesus who gave His life for us. By loving us so fully and freely, God sets us free to love our neighbour sacrificially.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.John 13:34