I began reading Confronting Christianity at the start of a Spring Break trip with my family this week. I was excited for this hopeful, accessible book after several weeks of heavy, difficult reading. However, little did I know, I would be spending a large share of this week in hours of video chats, conference calls, and crafting communication that was unheard of just the week prior. McLaughlin took a back seat to the immediate need of our students and campus community as we tried to make the most informed decisions possible. Like many of you, we seemed to be in the midst of lose-lose scenarios. Balancing help for elderly parents, the closure of schools and the needs of teams and students from afar was not what I had intended. Honestly, I was one of the first to eye-roll at all the hype. Even though I still do not understand the panic buying of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I am beginning to see more clearly the ways our organizations are contributing to the slowing of this virus through closure and cancellations. As we learned from Freidman, we have a presenting opportunity to be a “non-anxious presence” for those around us in panic.
The fear around us is real. People are suffering from this virus through its physical symptoms as well as the disruption is has produced. However, McLaughlin reminds us that “Jesus is no remote deity, watching suffering from a safe distance. He is the God who inhabits our suffering.” This week, I have observed church leaders respond publicly in a variety of ways…from supportive and prayerful to condemnatory and judgmental. I wonder why we turn fearful times like this into opportunities for further division rather than unity. Does it matter if we think people are over-reacting? Does our open judgment of leaders who choose to cancel or not to cancel their church services and events really help? Regardless of our personal thoughts and feelings, we are invited to be part of a Spirit-filled response to other leaders as we all try to make the best decisions we can. There are people on the other side of every decision made in this crisis, and we’re all hoping for the best. Maybe the media is stirring us into a frenzy…maybe the concern is actually merited…maybe we just don’t know.
People are concerned. People are responding in panic. People are slinging judgment and slander. People have a common need. This virus is confronting our Christianity. It matters to us, and it matters to Jesus. Even in the midst of “social distancing,” I heed Mclaughlin’s words: “Christians following Jesus are deeply attached, and covered in tears – their own, and those of others – just like their Lord.”
Let’s pray for one another. Love one another. Let’s allow our Christianity to be a beautiful response of unity and acceptance in an unknown time.
 Edwin H. Friedman, A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, ed. Margaret M. Treadwell and Edward W. Beal (New York: Seabury Books, 2007).
 Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion (Wheaton: Crossway, 2019), 201.
 Ibid, 207.