by Pastor Su Kim

Although COVID-19 has affected the world, mitigation strategies have varied greatly. Reopening phases and conditions, even at the county and city level, have been vastly different. While some regions have endured tragically high death tolls, others appear relatively unscathed.

Even experiences within our own congregation have varied dramatically. Some have found surprise blessings during this time, such as increased time with family, new or rekindled hobbies, or a more relaxed pace of life. Others have felt pain and heartbreak as loved ones became ill, lost jobs, or suffered through isolation and loneliness. This seems to suggest that our experiences are individualized. But for Christ-followers, our experiences are shared and communal.

In his letter to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). The mark of Christian love is not merely our response to personal experiences but our response to that which our brothers and sisters in Christ experience. When one of our own rejoices, we are to respond with joy, not bitterness. And when one of our own mourns, we are to mourn with them. Their sorrows and their gladness become our own because we are one body: Christ’s. Paul wrote, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). This statement stresses the interconnectedness of the body of Christ. We have the capacity to show true Christian love because through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection God made us family (Romans 8:15-16). In fact, Jesus redefined His family as those who do God’s will (Mark 3:33-35).

When we think of rejoicing or mourning with the entire body of Christ, it sounds overwhelming and nearly impossible. But thankfully, God is the One who loves the whole world (John 3:16); we, on the other hand, are called to love those who we encounter. And we can do this because of our union with Christ and a life indwelt, enlivened, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Do you know someone who recently had some wonderful news? Call them and rejoice with them! Do you know someone who is grieving? Send them a note and comfort them. Did you read a news article about a tragedy? Listen to what God is saying to you and pray for the people and the situation. In what other ways may God be leading you to serve as an instrument of His love?