How should Christians act during the coronavirus epidemic?
There have been many epidemics throughout the history of the church. For example, in 1527, there was an outbreak of plague in Martin Luther’s city of Wittenberg. Since Luther was a pastor’s pastor, many asked him for advice. Here’s some of what he told them:
I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above (AE 43, “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague,” p. 132).
Pray for God’s protection…then sanitize your house and take your medicine.
Do both—prayer and preparation.
And as Luther also said, while you should be ready to serve your neighbor when needed, in the meantime, practice social distancing, i.e., don’t go around to people you do not need to see, and to places where you don’t need to be, to help avoid spreading the disease.
Even though he wrote five hundred years ago, Luther could have given the same advice this morning. For the sake of your neighbors, I recommend following it!