20th March 2020 | Dave Bookless | 6 comments

What virus are you spreading?

As the COVID-19 coronavirus makes its relentless way across the world, it is not the only thing that is going viral. Fear, panic-buying, stock-market slumps, and fake news stories are also infectiously spreading like viruses, making the situation so much worse. In this context, I want to ask two key questions:

  1. What can we learn about ourselves, our societies, and our planet from this crisis?
  2. Are there positives that we can aim to spread virally, overcoming the harmful infections?
Twelve trees at sundown, by Andreas Klodt (CC BY-NC-SA)

Twelve trees at sundown, by Andreas Klodt (CC BY-NC-SA)

In terms of what we can learn:

So, if there’s much we can learn from the suffering and limits imposed by COVID-19, how can we virally encourage the positives? At the risk of being simplistic, the bible speaks of the three virtues of faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13:13), or as The Message puts it, ‘Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.’ I sense that these three virtue-viruses will be needed not only as we face COVID-19 and its consequences, but also as we face further disruptions and necessary changes to address climate change and biodiversity loss.

Our faith is in God, who is ‘our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46:1). That doesn’t mean we won’t catch the virus or suffer economically, but it means God comes alongside us and all who are wounded and broken, human and nonhuman, in compassion and renewal. It doesn’t mean we won’t feel frightened, but it gives us a wider perspective that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

Hope enables us to face uncertainty, because it is rooted in who God is, not what’s happening around us. I was deeply moved last week speaking to a relative in her 90s who said ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ She went on to say that she wasn’t afraid of death because of her hope of eternal life with Christ. That hope extends to God’s good purposes for the whole created order, which, despite the calamitous and blasphemous ways we mistreat it, is longing to be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom of God’s children (Romans 8:21).

Finally, love, which St Paul reminds us is the greatest of the three. There are wonderful stories of viral love for neighbour emerging amidst the tragedy of coronavirus. Bono was even inspired to write a new song ‘Let your love be known’ as he heard of Italians singing across rooftops from their locked-down homes. As many of us are forced to slow down and live indoors, we can also look out and, as a self-isolating friend wrote, ‘Perhaps in the regenerative wonder of nature (trashed by human misuse though it is), we can experience something of a spiritual regeneration in ourselves and our relationship with God.’

So, what virus are you spreading? Whilst the world goes crazy, many face lockdown, and many are suffering, let’s resolve to deepen our exposure to faith, hope and love, and to share them as virally as we can.

Small image: Computer illustration of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (No copyright; Public Domain)

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Categories: Reflections
About Dave Bookless

Dave is Director of Theology for A Rocha International, where he works to embed creation care into international Christian organizations, theological institutions, and mission movements. His past roles with A Rocha include being an International Trustee and the co-founder of A Rocha UK (with his wife Anne). He has a PhD from Cambridge University on biblical theology and biodiversity conservation, and has contributed to many books and articles, including Planetwise, available in six languages. Born and raised in India, Dave has a love for Indian food, Indian culture and Indian Christianity. Dave is also a qualified bird-ringer and loves birding, islands, running and mountains.

View all posts by Dave Bookless (73)

6 responses to “What virus are you spreading?”

  1. […] uit het Engels door Jacolien Vreugdenhil –  A Rocha […]

  2. Simon Moolenaar says:

    Thanks Dave; we need an appropriate Christian response to this crisis and the ones to come.
    ‘Spiritual regeneration’ and realism is and will be the best vaccin available: Faith, Hope & Love.

  3. […] a guest post by Revd Dr Dave Bookless, originally published by A Rocha […]

  4. […] Bookless’ excellent blog on “What Virus Are You Spreading?” is going viral (haha). If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth […]

  5. Robert Wareing-Jones says:

    As ever Dave Bookless, leaves us, challenged, yet informed and better equipped.

  6. Polly Brown says:

    Insightful vision for the future and a truly Christian response. It can only happen with international leaders who take up this vision and the practical steps needed: We need God to raise up Statesmen and Scientists whe will find ways to work together to bring about this kind of drastic change from the past. Thank you for this.

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