I made the mistake (again) of checking the news today.
The headlines (again) were global. “America may be at its most dangerous point.” “Italy passes China’s death toll.” “Prince Albert of Monaco has coronavirus.” An avalanche of related stories followed—Florida’s spring break and corona, oceanic cruise ships and corona, and _________ and corona.
One of the unintended consequences of our constant corona updates is what some call “decision paralysis.” That’s when you have so many options to choose from that you’re paralyzed and end up doing nothing.
It’s like when I encourage people to invest in a good Bible, and they come back to church Bible-less. “Pastor, I went to Amazon, but there was NIV, ESV, KJV, NKJV, NASB, CSB, fine print, large print, study Bibles, men’s study Bibles, archaeology study Bibles, famous pastor’s notes study Bibles, and sparkly pink Bibles for preteen girls. I didn’t know what to pick.”
Decision paralysis keeps us from doing anything. Which is the opposite of what God wants. Which might cost us one of the best opportunities to display Christ’s love that we Christians have had in a long, long time.
Corona has made it a great time to be a Christian, because Christianity is rooted in generosity. We worship a Father who gave us his one and only Son (John 3:16), a Son who gave us his one and only life (Mark 10:45), and a Spirit who gave us the one true faith (Ephesians 2:8). Our God is the fount of every blessing (James 1:17) and the source of everything that makes us smile (Psalm 16:2).
The generosity of God inspires us to open our hearts to love, open our ears to listen, open our wallets to give, open our schedules to connect, and open our hands to serve.
But this is where you can get stuck. When everything’s falling apart, where do you start? How do you decide where to spend your limited resources in a world where almost everyone needs help?
Here’s my advice—In a corona world, love like a local.
Snap yourself out of the paralysis, and make the decision to do something for your inner circle. Make a list of five people whom you know who are facing loneliness, financial strain, or intense anxiety. Release yourself from the guilt of not being able to help 6 people or 7 people or 7.8 billion people. Just start small. Keep your love local.
I should clarify—I’m not against donating to global causes or praying for Prince Albert of Monaco (we haven’t met, but I’m sure he’d be grateful for your prayers). But in order to avoid doing nothing, I want to lay out a simple path to do something. So, love like a local.
Think of Jesus’ classic story of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus asked a man to summarize God’s law (his will for our lives), the man correctly answered, “Love God and love your neighbor” (Luke 10:27).
“And who is my neighbor?” the man wondered.
Which launched Jesus into a story about a Samaritan who did good. He saw someone in need and interrupted his plans to restore him to health. Did the good Samaritan fund the entire first-century health care system? Nope. He just loved the guy in need who was right in front of him.
He loved like a local.
I want to encourage you to do the same. Write five names on a sticky note, and stick it on your bathroom mirror. Pray for those five people. Text or call or write or email them each day, asking how you can help. Investigate their emotional, financial, and spiritual needs, and do what you can to meet those needs. Pray with them on the phone. Text them a passage about God’s presence, which no quarantine can stop. Write their landlord a check. Whatever love looks like, do it.
As a pastor, I can tell you that church leaders are feeling overwhelmed right now. We want to love the dozens or hundreds or thousands (or millions of friends from Time of Grace!) from our spiritual communities, but we get paralyzed by the numbers and the needs. But if each Christian would just love five of their local neighbors, we could get through this.
The almighty and ever-present God will care for his global church through billions of believers. Our part is to soak in his love for the world and then to love like a local.