Devon Dick | Healing during coronavirus
ON MARCH 30, I saw a video clip which was being circulated, in which there was a well-known tele-evangelist saying in a loud, authoritative and strong voice, ‘In the name of Jesus, standing in the office of the prophet of God, I execute judgement on you COVID-19, ... you get off this nation, I demanded judgement on you, ... I demand a vaccination to come immediately ... I call you gone ... . It is finished; it is over and the United States of America (USA) is healed and well again’.
One week later, and there is no proven vaccine. In fact, the USA had 160,000 confirmed cases as at March 30, and a week later, the number of confirmed cases has doubled. On March 30, there were 3,000 deaths associated with the coronavirus, and since the so-called prophet opened his mouth, within a week the number of deaths associated with the virus has tripled. A sacred prophet getting it very wrong.
What could have cause this? It could be that this self-styled prophet was equating Christianity to a nationalistic God, implying that USA citizens are the chosen people of God. That the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is for the nation state of USA only, and perhaps Israel. So this prophet got into action when coronavirus was wreaking havoc in USA, but not when it was causing anguish in China, Italy or Spain.
Furthermore, there is a misunderstanding of the purpose and effect of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Some faith healers claim that Christians are healed ‘by his stripes’, based on Isaiah 53: 5 and 1 Peter 2: 24. The belief is that the lashes, bruises, licks, marks which did not draw blood, but created black and blue wounds on Jesus’ skin, means that all Christians, by faith, are entitled to receive healing. However, during the earthly ministry of Jesus, he demonstrated that forgiveness of sin is paramount over the healing of the body. The story of the paralysed man who was brought to Jesus for healing showed that. The first thing Jesus did was to forgive his sins although that was not requested (Mark 2: 1-12). The greater need of the paralysed man was for forgiveness of sin. It is better to have the dominion of sin over our lives broken and be ill, rather than be physically healthy and living under the hurtful influence of sin. Therefore, we are forgiven of our sin through Jesus. Salvation is healing from sin. It is the healing of a broken relationship with God and our fellow human beings.
Yes, God can heal us instantaneously from COVID-19, or through the application of medicine, or by our wonderful body fighting off various viruses and diseases. However, the greater need appears to be for forgiveness of our sins which the reaction to the coronavirus has exposed in too many of us. The reaction to this invisible enemy has unearthed price-gouging, greed, hoarding, selfishness, pride and panic. Persons are using this global pandemic to advance their career, political fortunes, professional prestige, and church growth. In addition, there has been discrimination and stigmatisation against those infected with the virus or associated with persons with the virus. So, instead of compassion, there is callousness; instead of unity of purpose, there is one-upmanship; instead of faith in God, there is fear of the unknown; and instead of dependence on God, there is despair.
As we approach Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and remember the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, let COVID-19 provide an opportunity for self- examination to enable us to experience forgiveness of sin and be compassionate, especially to persons who are vulnerable.
Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of ‘The Cross and the Machete’, and ‘Rebellion to Riot’. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.