The Internet, COVID-19, and Matthew 24:14
Updated: Apr 10, 2020
This is NOT a doom & gloom post. This post talks about the Great Hope of Humanity. Let me explain…
Matthew 24:14 states in the New Living Translation, “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.” Jesus was telling his disciples, and therefore us, that the end will come after the world has had a chance to hear the Gospel. I’ve heard this many times throughout my Christian life; usually in conjunction with seeking missionaries to answer the call to ‘Send Me’. People cannot hear the Gospel if no-one is there to deliver the message of the Gospel. It’s been a recurring theme to try to reach the parts of the world, and there are many, who’ve not heard the Gospel and the name of Jesus. The problem has been how to get people to these areas. We’ve been trying to ship people in; truck people in; horse & buggy them in; every possible method of transportation has been used to reach the previously unreached, but still – many millions remain just that - unreached.
Enter the internet. While Al Gore claims he invented it (insert eye-roll here), it was established by the military in conjunction with a few very technical based colleges, universities, and academies to get instant access to information of intelligence value to operators, agents and analysts for immediate use – again, by the military. As with many things we use today: Velcro, Tang, and SPAM (just to name a few), there proved to be amazing civilian uses and applications for this new system – later dubbed “internet”. Jump forward a few years…ok…decades. Today with the touch of our smartphones, our touchpads, laptops, and desktop computers we can access Wikipedia, Google, or any one of hundreds of programs and ‘pages’ to find out anything from the temperature of the city we were born in on the day we were born to photos and scientists' renditions of what other planets might actually look like from a point on that planet. The point being we have access to unfettered knowledge. My wife worked for a year as a sixth-grade teacher in the Transkei in South Africa, where these children had no hope for a good life in a nation suffering from the recent shedding of apartheid. So, they asked educators to come in to give these children hope. My wife’s “children” are now Doctors, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and in management positions in business because of the hope they developed. While, she was there, she was stunned to see they had access in this economically backward culture to televisions, computers, and many things that we take for granted. The computers, while not top-of-the-line models, provided access to the fledgling internet, even then (1999-2000).
Jump forward a few decades and now we are dealing with just the most recent pandemic among what seems like an unending supply of them. This one, and a few others, just so happen to originate in China. Whether is was humans eating infected bats, a botched bioweapon, or something even more sinister is not our topic today. Coronavirus (2019), or COVID-19 as it is now being referred to, has caused many world governments to go into emergency mode while seeking remedies. Businesses have been told they are essential or non-essential; people have been forced to stay home for weeks on end; toilet paper…ok, I won’t go there… Anyway, churches, as with other businesses, have had to adjust, as well. This adjustment has been in the form of the church going online. Online….online….I’m sure I just said something about that. Oh yeah, the far corners of the world are able to get online. The church has been forced, through sneering grins of bureaucrats to close their doors and meet online – not just have an online presence, but to meet online. Platforms like Zoom, Google Meets, and Microsoft Teams allow this to happen. We are not with each other, but we are meeting ‘with’ each other as though we were. While we meet, cultures from across the globe find themselves with an opportunity never before realized; to be part of a church, while never even having had a missionary visit. The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, CA has multiple congregations of varying languages and people groups. These congregations have the unique potential of reaching into their countries of origin and reaching people that, in many cases, it’s too dangerous or remote to access through normal means. The Church on the Way is just one of many churches that has influence into multiple cultures and people groups.
COVID-19 is a deadly disease. I think the Media’s portrayal and coverage is pushing far more fear than the disease would normally generate on it's own. The internet allows this fear and frenzy to hit every corner of the world. The world is tuned in. “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Joseph said this in Genesis 50:20 to his brothers after being found out. Their betrayal set in motion that which allowed God to house His people under the umbrella of the most powerful political and military force the world had ever seen to that point. The evil of this disease, the media’s frenzied attacks on all things conservative and people's inability to not be caught up in the panic is the catalyst that God is using to ensure that the Gospel can reach every corner of the world; “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.”