I want you to know, brother, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31)
You may know that Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians from a jail cell. He had been arrested for activities related to sharing the gospel. This is a real-life struggle for many Christians today. Just do some searching for Early Rain Covenant Church in China. But Paul was looking single-mindedly to one goal: the advancement of the gospel message.
I paused when reading this passage because I wonder how many of us are thinking that way. The threat of Coronavirus to our health and safety, to that of our friends and family; the job loss and damage to local businesses that we love to frequent; the social distancing and isolation—all these things are more than enough to take up our worries and our attention.
These things are important, to be sure. But to make these your sole focus is to miss the greater purpose, namely this: how can we advance the gospel message in this situation? Paul was willing to be imprisoned and even to die for the advancement of the gospel. And he says in one of his other letters, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Some of you are certainly feeling imprisoned in your homes right now. But the challenge for us is to ask the question, How can this serve to advance the gospel message? And to ask that question every day. This is the way that God has called us to honor him and to honor his Son. To point to him and his glorious grace in all that we do.
Whatever you do… How you live your life in a time of quarantine matters. Ask God if he would show you how the gospel is being advanced in this time. Ask him to show you how you can advance the gospel. Even in the quarantine, he is all in all.
Father, we think so much about ourselves and our own well being. We are worried about those friends and family who are sick or vulnerable. We think about our comforts and how we’d like to get back to life out there, rather than being cooped up in our homes.
Yet, Lord, you remind us that your purposes are at work even in the most unexpected ways. Indeed, it is a peculiarity of your glory that you use circumstances like these to demonstrate your great mercy and love in Jesus. Would you reveal this to us? Would you show us how you are manifesting your glory even here, even now? And would you show us how we can serve you in the middle of it all?
With humble hearts, we bow to you and serve your kingdom.