Matthew 5:16 – In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (NRSV)
My husband Solomon is Nigerian and I am British. Although we have been living in Germany long enough to become acclimatized to the German culture and language, we still enjoy connecting with our cultural and linguistic roots when the opportunity arises.
A few weeks ago, Solomon ran into an old friend from Nigeria in the nearby city of Essen. The friend declared that he was now the pastor of a church for African ex-pats, and consequently invited my husband to attend their upcoming church service that Sunday.
Solomon's happy anticipation of home-grown worship and fellowship was very much realized that Sunday. After the church service, Solomon walked to the main train station with a group of African men from the church. They were chattering and exchanging pleasantries, when a lady walked past them and yelled, "Hey, Corona people!"
The group was dumbstruck by this unprovoked verbal attack. One young man in particular was very upset. "Why are we being randomly targeted as harbingers of the COVID-19 virus?" he asked the others, dumbfounded. "Why be unnecessarily cruel during such unprecedented times, when we all are suffering? And, who are 'Corona people' anyway?"
Instead of expressing their own hurt, Solomon and the others comforted the young man. They assured him that the lady was probably feeling the stress of the Corona pandemic and was thereby projecting her fears and anxieties onto them. They reminded each other that as believers of Christ, they could forgive this lady, just as Christ had forgiven them their transgressions. Their fellowship, at first carefree, had turned earnest, and they were grateful for the spiritual support that they could provide each other in both types of circumstances.
As they parted ways, the men prayed that the lady would be able to experience the same peace and freedom that they did, by putting their faith in the Lord.
This entire experience was a reminder for Solomon of how imperative it is that we as Christians continue to be a light to others during these unprecedented times. Where fear and anxiety reign in people's hearts, where prejudice and postulation override common sense and sympathy, God's love needs to be a beacon that cuts through the darkness to offer revelation and encouragement — not only to those who do not know God, but also to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Prayer: Almighty Father, we do not know why mankind has been struck down with the COVID-19 virus, but we do know that You make all things good with Your perfect timing. Until then, comfort us in the knowledge that Your grace goes before us, and enable us to shine with Your love so that we may be a light to others and encourage those around us in this dark world. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "The Old Rugged Cross" (Lyrics)