By Sem. Robert Bigabwarugaba
The French Bishop, Rev. Roland noted in his piece that the only situation in a current world of storm is “fear”, which relates to Sarah Bossley who refers to the fear of Coronavirus as almost the great threat as Covid-19 itself, the desire it ‘self that causes death. This avails our minds with the Theological context of fearing sin as our only motivation for obedience and one way to loathe snares of death and its being.
When the first news about a mysterious pandemic in the world, started emerging as early as December 2019 from China, the feelings are by definition, hard to put into words. So to accurately describe the anxiety now engulfing the entire universe is extremely challenging. “Scared or fear” is not a string enough to capture the kind of fear so many people seem to be feeling as if the heavens are coming to swallow us, as good reasons to be afraid such as death due to Covid-19 are centering the confusion in most global reactions of what may happen next or the crux of the current world storm.
Human beings naturally fear anything that is physically or emotionally threatening. We also tend to fear anything that is greater than us or different from ourselves, if there is a current phobia of Coronavirus, and we respond to it as something deadly, and what of that sin that we don’t vividly understand and both well known to have a supreme being to penalise us for its cause “sin.”
We are fallen and it’s easy for us to fall into sin, but also, I think the root of our fear is unbelief. We have to trust a belief that God is truly in control and trust believe that God will care for us and end up free to fearing sin which in turn costs much eternal pain in life.
U.S Bishop Joseph Strickland who has called for Eucharistic processions to fight the Coronavirus and the world leaders who have called for more prayers in response to the Coronavirus, says that it would be “unimaginable” to close churches. Reason being, Jesus is the fountain of all graces and mercy, in so doing a call for repentance especially in this Lenten season and strong fear to sin as well as pleading to God through meditation for a changed health situation.
The reality is that today, more than ever before, we can control significant parts of our lives, but perhaps this sense of control is an illusion, a pebble that the Coronavirus “Covid-19” has popped revealing the reality that we are not really in control, instead we should avert our likings to God which is being obedient to his commandments and turn to his fountain of mercy and graces in relation to “fearing sin” repentance and come closer to his care and guidance.
A frequent command given to God’s people in the OT is to “fear God” which comes in the current theological context of fearing to sin thus avoiding near occasions of sin. It’s important that we understand what this command means for Christ’s followers today. Only as we truly fear Coronavirus, this should be a similar case of fearing sin so as to be freed from all destructive and satanic fears. By fearing sin “evil acts” we can avoid being trapped by the natural pull towards immoral behaviour.
A few decades back, a notorious virus “HIV” almost shook the world in most states that led to various death scenes, it should be taken that most cultures pinpointed sinning against God as the curse he has sent to the globe. However, this did not negate sexual immorality with the birth of ARV’s and other scientific measures to protect from such a virus. It’s no shame that the fear of sinning in this era led to most mushrooming born-again churches calling for God’s obedience and repentance which has now been taken for granted. It should have been a lesson for mankind, let me hope we are not now in the former test of need to repent and call of fear to avoid near occasions of sin.
Leviticus 26:14-19, “But if you will not listen to Me and will not do all the commands if you spurn, my statutes, and if your soul abhors My rules, so that you will not do all My commands, but break My covenant, then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that will consume the eyes and make the heartache and you shall sow your seed in vain.”
This time around the Coronavirus doesn’t respect ethnic boundaries nor national borders unlike previous epidemics, this calls on our infirmity and nasty acts especially in this Lenten season to have fear of sin and stand up for holiness praying reverently for such times to find us sober as being obedient to God’s commands.
Sem. Robert Bigabwarugaba
Katigondo National Major Seminary.