COVID-19 a shaking of our foundations: Knowledge vs Love

The quest for knowledge of good and evil has plagued mankind since  the garden of Eden. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9 (NIV). Eve was not tempted by the tree of life; she was tempted by what sells newspapers and drives social media today; the knowledge of good and evil. Since then mankind has been enamoured with the desire to know good and evil. Instead of life [wholeness] we focus on death[separation]. The first couple had been warned that the tree of knowledge of good and evil would lead to death.

Genesis 2:17 (NIV). “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Knowledge of good and evil should not be confused with Wisdom- the Bible does not advocate for ignorance vs knowledge but calls us to Wisdom over foolishness. Wisdom was present before the creation[1]

As the Biblical Story progresses, we know that this strong desire for knowledge of good and evil finally led to what we have come to refer to as The Fall. The devil weighs in and compounds this temptation by adding a sweetener with the false premise that the ultimate outcome of eating this forbidden tree will result in mankind [2] becoming like God.

Genesis 3:4-5 (NIV). “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

In these days of Social Media and in the context of Covid-19 the attraction to conspiracy theories feeds off this desire to know good and evil. Is so and so evil?  or is such and such country or organization evil?  Have they become like God, controlling the world and our collective destiny?

The Apostle Paul provides a counter narrative, rather than knowledge, he advocates for love.The context  is one  where  pagan worship  is dominant and meat offered to Idols is abundantly available. There were those who claimed superior knowledge and would give undue deference to the influence of idols. Without denying the reality and bondage of Idol worship, one should not attribute to idols more power and sovereignty than the Creator God. Even if one is right about what they “know” what difference does it make?

1 Corinthians 8:1 (NLT). Now regarding your question about food that has been offered to idols. Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.

Followers of Jesus are called to a life of Love[3]. Social scientist, Rodney Stark, in his book “The Rise of Christianity,” documents that the ancient church grew fastest in the context of adversity, particularly the frequent plagues that devasted the Roman empire. These were an opportunity for Christians to show love despite the fear of infection. While others who could fled, Christians cared for the sick and dying.  Christians too got sick and died but their love for the vulnerable left an indelible mark on their pagan neighbours who saw the manifestation of a God who loves.

Daniel told us that in the days closer to Christ’s return, there would be rapid travel and a knowledge economy. “But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.” Daniel 12:4 (NLT).

It is very easy for Christians to be caught up competing about who knows more. Who knows more theology or more conspiracy theories etc. Or even who can correctly name the source of Covid-19.  The greatest conspiracy of all was the betrayal of Jesus by Judas to the Jewish leaders. God orchestrated and even used this scheme as an essential part of getting His son to where he needed to be – on the cross. Would there have been a cross without the kiss? Psalms 2:4 tells us that even as the world conspires- God laughs[4]

In Revelation 2:7 the Lord promises us the tree of life to all who are victorious. The Bible urges us to “stir up one another to love and good  works”( Hebrews 10:24). We are urged not to neglect to meet together. Since we now “meet” on social media, let us be careful to demonstrate Love. Before you pass on the latest ” knowledge” on WhatsApp, please ask yourself “will this stir my brothers and sisters to Love and good works or to fear and pride?” Christ has already set us free from fear of death. Satan paralyses the world through fear of death, just as the roaring of a Lion scares and confuses its prey. God at Easter- defeated the roaring lion and set us free from fear.

Hebrews 2:14-15 (NLT).Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

Christ has set us free to live a life of Love.

The wicked in history have always conspired and will continue to conspire to cause all kinds of havoc. Our response is to find opportunities to witness of our faith in the God of the resurrection. In this Covid-19 season, we are called to be witness through our love not our knowledge.

Revelation 12:11 (NLT).And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.

The world has been confronted with mankind’s mortality. The reality of facing death or hunger or sickness can cause us to be paralysed by fear, preventing us from our primary mission- to “be” witnesses. After Pentecost the timid disciples where filled by the Spirit and their fear was turned to boldness. We each will all exit the world in one way or the other, including those who will be raptured. Let us not get caught up with fear but with demonstrating God’s Love and our hope in the resurrection.  There are many ways to die, Covid-19 is only one of them, but there is only one way to live. We live in Christ. Paul reminds us of this in  1 Corinthians 8:6 (NLT):

But for us, There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.

Paul’s priorities are clear in  Philippians 1:21 (ASV). For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

I long to hear testimonies of how we are loving our spouses, children, neighbours, workmates, workers etc, in these difficult days. Jesus reminds us that that ours is not to preach fear (evil is real) but love and the Kingdom.

Matthew 24:10-14 (NLT).And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

– Rev.Dr. Dennis Tongoi –

Rev.Dr. Dennis & Mrs.Irene Tongoi

[1] Proverbs 8:22 (NLT)

“The Lord formed me from the beginning,

before he created anything else.

[2] The Original sin is not original.

Isaiah 14:12-14 (NLT) “How you are fallen from heaven,

O shining star, son of the morning!

You have been thrown down to the earth,

Isaiah 14:12-14

you who destroyed the nations of the world.

For you said to yourself,

‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars.

I will preside on the mountain of the gods

far away in the north.

I will climb to the highest heavens

and be like the Most High.’

[3] Ephesians 5:2 (NLT)  Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

[4] Psalms 2:4 (NIV)

Why do the nations conspire

and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth rise up

and the rulers band together

against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,

“Let us break their chains

and throw off their shackles.”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;

the Lord scoffs at them.

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