The Un-Novel Truth Faces the Novel Virus

By Sean Kong

Earlier this year, in our fortnightly prayer meeting, one sister mentioned that the colossal smoke from the devastating Australian bushfires made a ‘full circuit’ around the globe and then back to Australia. The sister then asked, ‘But what does this mean? I’m sure it must mean something’.

I didn’t think much of it at first, but oddly enough, it stayed on my mind. 

Then, a few weeks later, the outbreak of COVID-19 started happening. 

It was like the intro of a zombie flick: The disease began spreading all over China, then in my home country, South Korea, then Iran, Italy… And now, it has reached our shores.

But there IS a healthy fear of the Lord that we are supposed to be feeling as we witness these events unfold, causing us to see that COVID-19 is, actually, nothing compared to the eternal wrath of God that will be poured out on the world upon Christ’s return — of which coronavirus is only a trailer, a snippet preview.

Sean Kong

It’s like COVID-19 is making a ‘full circuit’.

Perhaps the smoke around the globe was some kind of a precursor to what is happening in the world right now.

To be honest, I have struggled to make sense of this whole situation. I have noticed that a majority of the Christians’ response lately has been about finding hope and courage in fearful and uncertain times — which is so important.

But I think we are perhaps missing another important element of what God wants us to see in this situation. 

The Lord Jesus taught us that, essentially, the calamities and disasters that we witness in this world are a preview of the Judgment of God that shall be unleashed on the Day of Judgment:

Luke 13:4
[4] Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? [5] No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

“You will all LIKEWISE perish”. So when people witnessed that tower fall and crushing those 18 people, the response that Jesus wanted people to have was not, “those people must’ve done something wrong”. Rather, it was, “If I don’t repent of MY sins, that’s what’s going to happen to ME on the Day of Judgment — that crushing — times infinity!”

This is also how God wants us to see this situation of COVID-19 causing havoc around the globe. As we witness thousands of people falling dead with this disease, the way we are supposed to respond is not pointing fingers at which government/institution/individual did what wrong (which has led to xenophobia and tension between nations). 

Rather, we should be saying: “COVID-19 is what’s going to happen to ME, times infinity, on the Day of Judgment, if I don’t repent of MY sins and put my trust in Christ as my sole saviour!” 

Yes, I am against unnecessary panic and anxiety during this time. I have resented the selfishness in which people are hoarding food and supplies with absolutely no thought for the elderly or the disadvantaged in our communities. We, as God’s people, refuse to panic like that or be anxious, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6)

But there IS a healthy fear of the Lord that we are supposed to be feeling as we witness these events unfold, causing us to see that COVID-19 is, actually, nothing compared to the eternal wrath of God that will be poured out on the world upon Christ’s return — of which coronavirus is only a trailer, a snippet preview. This should cause us to repent ourselves and long to see our neighbours come to the same repentance.

Look what Paul says: 

Acts 17:29-31
[29] Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. [30] The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, [31] because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

God is still calling all people everywhere — people in China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Australia — to repent of worshipping and living according to their false imaginations of God and receive Jesus Christ as the supreme and ultimate revelation of God (“He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God” Colossians 1:3). 

If one does not turn and receive Jesus as the Image of God, the “wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36) and that wrath will be unleashed — like a dam, full to the brim, finally being released — on that individual, on that “great and awesome Day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31).

That truth hasn’t changed, even through all that’s going on in this world right now. And COVID-19, in the grand scheme of things, is merely another reminder. . . of that reality — that Judgment, with capital J, is coming. And that’s why, even in the midst of service closures and social distancing, our mission still must go on. 

Sean Kong

I know that’s not the truth we want to hear right now. I was listening to a guest preacher in my church the other day and one statement stood out to me: “the Christian message is not very flattering. It is: there is God. You’ve sinned against him. And he’s very angry with you. But he has provided a way out in Jesus”. We don’t like hearing such things. I must admit, when I heard that, I squirmed a little bit in my seat. Why? Because my flesh doesn’t want to admit that that is actually what the New Testament teaches: that God is angry, not just with certain groups of people or sinners, but with EVERYONE in the world for their false perceptions of God — but also that he LOVES the very people he’s angry with, and wants them to turn and embrace his Son as his true image. 

That truth hasn’t changed, even through all that’s going on in this world right now. And COVID-19, in the grand scheme of things, is merely another reminder (along with thousands of car crashes and deaths by cancer that has happened in the world today) of that reality — that Judgment, with capital J, is coming. And that’s why, even in the midst of service closures and social distancing, our mission still must go on.


Sean Kong is the assistant minister at Sherwood Methodist Church in Brisbane, QLD.