What do you most want right now?
An end to the Covid-19 crisis? Preservation from the disease for yourself and your family? Victory for the nations against this virus by human solidarity and skill? The nations exalted or the nations humbled? The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood that Hitler’s National Socialism was an attempt to plot a course for their nation that would exclude God. He said,
“Christians in Germany will face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilisation will survive, or willing the victory of the nation and thereby destroying our civilisation”.
His decision was to oppose the government, and a few weeks before the prison where he was being held was liberated by the Allies, he was hanged.
I am not suggesting that we should be hoping for the defeat of the nations against this virus; in God’s common grace there are things we have learnt to help us fight disease and we should use them as gifts from God.
But neither is it a simple “either/or” for us. It is not a simple choice between
a) we get through the crisis and beat the virus with relatively small loss of life, or
b) many people die, the nations are shown as weak and millions cry out to God in a great revival
But just suppose it was? If death sweeping through our nation was God’s way to drive many people to choose life in Christ, would you be OK with that?
Of course, by God’s grace we would love to see both limited loss of life and abundant gospel fruit, but which is most important to you right now? And how is that reflected in the burden of your prayers?
In Bonhoeffer’s time the choice was not as simple as he thought; Christian civilisation did not prosper with the defeat of the Nazis, but at least he made the call on what was more important.
What does Jesus say? “Seek first his [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).