A Message from President Stacy
Dear Members & Friends of the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day):
As we and the entire world are facing the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, I find guidance from three statements, one by our Lord Jesus Christ and two by the Apostle Paul.
The evening before Jesus was crucified, He announced a new covenant and gave His followers a new commandment. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 ESV). The great commandment of the new covenant is to love as Jesus loved.
To the Philippians, Paul wrote: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5). Christ-like love as described and modeled by Jesus and by Paul is humble, selfless, sacrificial, and giving. It places the needs of others before the desires of oneself.
To Timothy, Paul wrote: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). As the once popular chorus asks, “If God be for us, who can be against us.”
With regard to decision making, Pastor Andy Stanley has suggested this memorable phrase: “When unsure of what to say or do, ask what love requires of you.” What does Christ-like love require of us in relation to the dangers of the coronavirus currently sweeping our world? I suggest the following:
1. Love your neighbor.
People all around us are experiencing the same needs that we are experiencing and, without Christ, many may be suffering anxieties and fears to a far greater extent. The current situation provides a great opportunity to share our faith in God and our love for others as we share whatever resources we may have to share. People are talking on neighborhood apps and social media. Join the conversation with encouraging comments. Make a call. Send a text. Check up on your literal neighbors. The gift of a can of beef stew or a roll of toilet paper may mean more now than we might imagine.
2. Love one another.
Make decisions that are based, not on personal desires, but on what is best for others, especially what is best for the most vulnerable to this disease – the elderly and infirm. If this means missing a Bible Study, Sabbath services, or the Lord’s Supper because you are ill and/or there is the potential of infecting others with any disease, the loving thing is to stay home. If this means cancelling meetings (even the Lord’s Supper service) until the danger has passed, the loving thing is to cancel services.
3. Trust God & Reject Fear.
Medical experts and common sense are telling us that there are concrete things we can do to protect ourselves and others. You’ve read the lists: wash your hands frequently and thoroughly; avoid touching your face; disinfect surfaces and devices you may touch; cover your mouth if you must sneeze or cough; bump elbows instead of shaking hands; avoid crowds; stay home if you’re sick; etc. If we can slow the spread of COVID-19 now, we can avoid very serious consequences for ourselves and others later. But let’s do these things because they are the smart and loving things to do, not because we have embraced a spirit of fear. No matter who we are or where we are, God and the statistical probabilities are on our side. We who are in Christ enjoy God’s promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. Our present and our eternal future is with Him.
LiveStream Links to CG7 Services around the Conference
To assist with those looking for online services during this time, we’ve created a website of available livestreams to CG7 services around the Conference. If you’d like to add a link to the site, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the link to the livestream service to add. Here is the website: https://cog7.org/streaming-services/
Christian Resources for Help on COVID-19
The Billy Graham Center has partnered with some other organizations to provide a curated list of COVID-19 related material that may be of value. Here is the website: https://coronavirusandthechurch.com/
– Loren Stacy