28 March 2020
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
We are engaged in a battle with an invisible and vicious virus- COVID-19. As always the case in any battle, we are in danger of forgetting other important matters that pertain to life and godliness- our spiritual health. The season of Lent is good for us especially in times such as this because not only does it remind us of our mortality and need to have right relationship with God through penitent faith in Christ, it reminds us of other important habits of the heart in the christian life that are necessary for spiritual health and maturity. Here they are:
First, we need to continually examine ourselves and turn to God in repentance. This pandemic has forced us to engage the truth that we always want to avoid which is that we are sinners living in a fallen world under God’s judgement for our sins- the respectable sins and the outrageous sins. Sadly, in our age we are fixated on sexual sins as if they are the only outrageous sins. And if you are not committing them it makes you feel self-righteous especially in our lovely evangelical circles. However, it is important to remind ourselves that sexual sins are not the only sins condemned in the Bible. Envy, deception, lying, pride, lack of compassion for people in need, hoarding, conceit, gossip and blackmail of others, bitterness, unwillingness to forgive people who offend you, malice and murder, selfishness, grasping for power, greed for money, and hankering for more stuff are as evil and condemned in Scripture by our Holy God. Lent is a time to examine ourselves and turn to the Lord in genuine repentance. When we turn in repentance he will forgive us. I love the way John the Apostle put it in 1 John 1:6-9, “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.“
Second, we need to pray and lean on God for spiritual strength. We gain spiritual strength by engaging the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude, study and meditation on the Word of God, prayer and fasting, and belief in the gospel. We need to constantly remind ourselves of the gospel of Christ and the necessity to live a life worthy of the gospel.
Thirdly, we need to take care of ourselves and our neighbors especially those in the body of Christ. Here is how Paul put it in his letter to the Christians in Galatia, “ And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”(Galatians 6:9-10). Do not grow weary in reaching out and helping others.
Finally, we must remember and remind our world that God must be hallowed and exalted as Lord in our lives and in the world for our own good and for the good of the world. Our sense of being in total control is a terribly dangerous lie. We are very fragile in many ways because we are created to depend on God and live by every word that comes from God. Scripture teaches that to be the case but most people didn’t believe it until this COVID -19 pandemic. It is now a fact made abundantly clear by blunt experience that though we have some control it is very limited control. A new virus has reminded us of that and has cut us short, brought us all to our knees and exposed our helplessness without God. The world’s idols have now been exposed to be powerless to help us. We must now pray that the Lord will help our world to turn to him and put him at the center of our public life. We need to pray that the Lord in his mercy will forgive us and bring an end to this COVID-19 pandemic. Ask him to grant us repentance and the grace to acknowledge Him as Lord of our lives and the world. Pray for revival of holiness and the power to share the gospel of Christ to sinners – ourselves, our family and everyone around us.
In light of the vulnerability that many rightly feel today, I encourage you to look for opportunities to share the gospel because many are afraid to die and meet God in their impenitence. They are wise and right to be afraid. They need the gospel, and we need the gospel as well. Thanks be to God that we have a good and gracious gospel from our eternally loving Father which says that our Lord Jesus Christ loved us and died to pay the penalty for our sins so that whoever repents of sin and believes in him as his Savior and Lord will not perish but will have everlasting life and a glorious joyful eternity with God in Heaven.
If you are reading this email and you’re not sure that you’re a Christian, here is what I would say to you: God created you for himself- to love you and to enable you to love and serve him as His child through union with Christ. Do not waste your life on things that don’t fulfill this purpose that God has in creating you. If you have been wasting your life pursuing your dreams be aware that those things you’re pursuing will never satisfy you. Achieving your materialistic goals will indeed not satisfy his purpose for you. In the end, by the time you realize it, it may be too late. So, I encourage you to turn to God in repentance and faith in Christ as your Savior and Lord. Refocus your life on God’s purpose and plan for your life, which is to follow Christ in obedience as your Savior and Lord. As Dr Young put it “His way is the only way to live a life of meaning” that is eternally rewarding.
May the Lord remove from you all fear and despair and give you joy and hope in his loving embrace.
The peace of God, which passeth all understand, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Felix Orji, OSB.
Diocesan Bishop | Anglican Diocese of the West
Missionary Bishop | USA & Canada
Church of Nigeria(Anglican Communion)
Holy Trinity Cathedral Church
15150 Bellaire Blvd.
Houston, Texas, 77083
“We are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. True faith always yields the fruit of obedience to one degree or another.” – Dr. R. C. Sproul