The world is going crazy. People seem to be taking comfort in toilet paper, of all things. But we have something that stands up much better to this world’s problems: the Gospel of Christ. No amount of physical preparation and supplies with stop death—it is undefeated. But Christ died and then rose. So death has already been conquered in Him, because sin has been forgiven. There is no sin or death in Christ, who is the world’s Redeemer. Rest in Him and death is toothless. Believe in Jesus and death cannot really hurt you.
We sang recently: “Teach me to live that I may dread The grave as little as my bed. Teach me to die that so I may Rise glorious at the awe-full day” (LSB 883, “All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night”). The Christian is not about avoiding death at all costs—that is a losing battle. While we must not purposely put ourselves in harm’s way or be unloving towards others, social distancing and isolation are not true life. Life is in Jesus, who comes to us in His Word and Sacraments to free us from eternal death and earthly fears. He delivers us from the power of Satan, which grips minds in unbelief. The Devil wants us worried and fearful, acting out of fright, not love of God and the neighbor.
Wrap yourself with toilet paper and sanitizing wipes and it cannot keep death away. All sin must be answered for. Don’t think you can distance yourself from past mistakes and deadly worry by your thinking. Don’t think you can forgive yourself—that is like walking across a ravine on generic toilet paper. Die in Christ to all sin, by trusting in the power of His name. Live in faith, free from death and the power of sin, before the living God. Hold onto the forgiving Word as the Father’s verdict of righteousness, and you cannot be moved by earthly events.
Victory over death is not about your actions, even going to church. All religions which do not know Christ as the Messiah of the world, are religions of law. A rule or holy “obligation” of church attendance is just more law without hope. That is not why Christ died—to put us in bondage and burden us with rules. God’s holy will does not change based on the world’s conditions and the current virology. No pandemic is worse than hell. Christ frees us in our mind by faith, and eternally before the Father in heaven. “His steadfast love endures forever” (Ps. 118:4).
True, god-pleasing worship, according to the Scriptures is not external: “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4). Christians are motivated by God’s love and thankfulness, not slavish obedience to man-made rules. “the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7).
God is not separated by walls, man-made rules, or by physical distance. He is with those who confess His name: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Rom. 10:9-10). This faith, worked by the Spirit, is a greater miracle than if every bad virus died at the same time! The forgiveness of the Gospel opens heaven and makes you alive to God. And this living victory is yours, to enjoy and live in. This is the solution to our toilet paper emotions and plans, which tear and disintegrate so easily.
Live in the freedom of Christ, free from the fear of external things and loosed from the burdens of self-preservation. You are Christ’s. Rest in Him. Confess your fears to to God, and He will forgive you. All sin is forgiven in Christ.
A wise retired pastor said this about the current pandemic: God has sent a plague upon this world – may it cause us to cling to the means of grace in His Word. Only our Lord can save us from sin and the cause of all death. Only His grace causes death to lose it power and control over our lives, hearts and minds. So be free, no matter what is going on. Live as a baptized, forgiven child of the living God. We do not deserve mercy for our toilet paper faith, worry, and anxiousness, but God is not bent out of shape. He still loves us and calls to Himself in the Word. He is not worried, so you do not have the worry about material things—that are passing away.
We are torn away from earthly things by suffering. Not to panic and be run by fear, but to live eternally. So let go of your idea of earthly stability—it is all going to go away when Christ returns. Our faith and strength has been weak, maybe even less study than Charmin, but not our God. Even in the face of death, there is nothing to fear in Jesus, our Intercessor. We know death is coming, sin has required it. But death is no longer the dreadful punishment and separation it seems, it is now a portal home and a blessed rest from all death. “Teach me to live that I may dread The grave as little as my bed.” Amen.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 Jn. 4:18