How the Christian Church should respond to support people in times of crisis.

Crisis focuses us on what is necessary, unexpected, urgent. There are many in the world who pose as teachers who spend pretty much all their time telling people what they want to hear. Paul told Timothy 3For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. 2 Timothy 4:3. People want to hear what they want, then when crisis arises, they really can’t cope. Their faith in Christ melts away. Even in ordinary conditions something happens that rocks their life; disease, financial issues, children, marriage, the list goes on, then they decide that God doesn’t really care, so they give up on God. Let’s face it, we have the everything is great people who tell you what you want to hear, they set you up to fail. Instead of telling you the Bible, the trials that God’s people go through, they try to make Jesus into your best buddy. When Jesus “lets them down”, they dump Jesus, and that leaves them separated from God. There is no salvation outside of Jesus, so they have condemned themselves. You can spin it how you like, the reality is, it’s either Jesus and what He does in your life, or it is condemnation in the world. There’s no way you’re going to do it your way. For those who thought that “worship is all about me” they are now realizing that they need to get serious. It does make me wonder what most people in the world would do in a genuine crisis. Is there a serious problem right now? I will stipulate that there is a matter that requires attention. Does that justify extreme measures? Not really. If anything it has become a financial crisis. I know people who are unemployed because of the current environment. I don’t not know one person, personally, who has this disease, no less died from it. If there were a genuine crisis, people dying all around us, I cringe at the hysteria that would result. Especially for those who do not know Christ, trust in Him and look to the church for sanctuary and support. Church is like anything else if you don’t become a part of it, work with, support, encourage, learn in the church and then expect the church to be there as your refuge in difficult times, in crisis, you’re making it difficult for everyone. Sure we want to be there for people, but the stronger we make it in calm times, more essential, and the church is essential, has been for 2,000 years “essential”, the more effective it will be in those times of trial.

It has been an education understanding how emotional and fearful people are. Jesus told us, repeatedly in Scripture, fear not. He is in control, no matter what you want to believe. People, especially those with little or no faith, people Paul refers to as weaker brothers, simply resort to the emotional, they don’t care about any consequences just make it stop now. I was a lifeguard when I was in high school, college. In training you are taught to make sure the person you’re trying to get is going to be calm enough to help. Too often rescuers have been grabbed by victims, pushed down into the water so the victim can try to get on top of them to get away from the water. Of course that doesn’t work and both might end up being a victim. There are ways to escape, but if you keep taxing the rescuer, he will be worn out and unable to rescue you. That is a metaphor for what you see today. People want to escape from disease, so they close everything behind them, then will probably wonder why there is a wasteland when everything is said and done. They panicked and destroyed instead of trying to save. When people are in panic, and you don’t rush to save them they act like you’re the crazy one. But it’s not in anyone’s best interest for the rescuer to risk himself for the hysterical person. I’ve had over 2,000 hours of operational time in the Coast Guard, mostly search and rescue, and law enforcement. Add to that ten years of ministry, and mixed in with that 8 years as a police chaplain. I’m not going to get all excitable because politicians or functionaries, or those easily influenced who have never actually had to deal with genuine crisis and  they start to rush about. There are many great professionals in government, health, academia, public safety who I have known, worked with and had great, challenging, learning, growing experiences with. They have taught me to maintain calm, to be composed in addressing serious situations and to continue to function as well as possible. Running away in panic is not one of those answers. The Church has been around for 2,000 years, and yes has dealt with many more serious crisis than this and didn’t just run and hide. Dr Martin Luther who had extensive experience dealing with outbreaks of disease wrote a pamphlet on how Christian clergy and public officials should function under such circumstances, the following is my blog with Dr Luther’s text:

We must maintain composure and proportion. When we get silly and destructive and rely on the hysterical instead of the steady, people get hurt and the long range damage is substantial.

You should take that in consideration for the Christian Church. There are Christian pastors who want to serve and, like Luther, are going to be there with you through the trials and crisis. There are Christian pastors, who really don’t know what they are doing and think that being a pastor is about producing a weekly show. I have been through extensive amounts of experience with crisis and take it very seriously in ministry, I am certainly not about hiding away wearing a surgical mask. This is important not just in terms of what is going on now, but always. You want a pastor who will be solid, strong, and respond when needed and in the calm times will work hard to make sure you are prepared to deal with trial and crisis in your life. Despite what you might think, trial and crisis will come in your life. The Church of Christ from the very beginning has been about bringing people together in Christ to strengthen, encourage and support each other in times of crisis. As a pastor I have no intention of failing in that now.

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