As the number of those infected with COVID-19 grows dramatically with each passing hour, governments tighten their grip, trying desperately to slow the spread of the virus and mitigate the damage being caused. How are Christians to respond to these ever-increasing restrictions? Some claim that the closing of churches over the novel coronavirus is a form of persecution, or that any church that shuts its physical doors does not truly trust in the Lord. Is that true?

Christians must recognize that this global pandemic is affecting believers and non-believers alike. Thousands of people are suffering, if not from the coronavirus itself, at least from economic strain. Even aside from the thousands of deaths, many have lost their jobs, and a number of companies, especially smaller businesses, are in danger of failing altogether. The rules and regulations placed by governments on their citizens are not to persecute anyone, but instead to save lives. In Matthew 5:45b, Jesus states, “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” All humans in this fallen world are experiencing this pandemic together. In Romans 13:1-2, Paul says,

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

This was in a time when persecution of the church was much more prominent, and even then Paul urged those who followed Christ to obey the law. The coronavirus restrictions may seem draconic, and they may be, but they do not prevent believers from practicing their faith. It is a blessing to the church that technological advancements are so widespread that Christians can still encourage, exhort, learn, and serve together, even if leaving the home is not an option!

In following these restrictions passed by our government, a Christian is also being a good neighbor, which we are commanded to do. 1 Corinthians 10:24 says, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” Staying home right now, even if it is restrictive to personal liberty, is being a good neighbor to the vulnerable populations to whom this virus is most dangerous.

Finally, during these difficult times, there are many who do not know the Lord—neighbors, government officials, first responders, and so many more. They are consumed with anxiety, fear, and unrest because the future is uncertain. While they are citizens of earthly kingdoms, they do not have the assurance and peace of being a citizen of the heavenly kingdom. This is an excellent time to share the good news of the gospel!

It can be difficult to navigate the turmoil that this world has been thrown into during the last few months, but that does not mean that Christians are exempt from these passages from Paul! Obey the law. Be a good neighbor. Above all, have faith.

*Trey Bowling is Customer Service Manager for the Institute for Creation Research.