Advice from the Christian Medical Fellowship

Panic buying loo roll is not loving our neighbour, says Steve Fouch

Steve Fouch
Steve Fouch

Screaming headlines, broadcasters debating the effectiveness of the government’s measures all bombard us daily.

Of course we ask, “Will I be OK? What about my children, my parents? Will I still be able to work or go on holiday? How will I look after the kids? Will I go out of business?”

Be practical

The most practical way to keep safe and protect others is to wash your hands, thoroughly (hot water, with soap, for at least 20 seconds) and at every opportunity. If you or anyone in your household has a persistent cough or fever, stay at home for at least 14 days. If you can, avoid using public transport and work from home. There are regular updates on what we need to do to keep the infection under control on the government website and NHS 111.

But how should we respond as Christians? Our focus should always be foremost on Christ’s greatest commandments, to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:29-30).

Don’t be anxious

Loving God means laying aside fear and anxiety – he is in control. Jesus warned us that things like this would happen and told us not to be anxious, but to recognise them as signs of Creation’s groaning as it awaits his coming (Matthew 24:4-8; Romans 8:18-25).

We love our neighbours by being more concerned about their welfare than our own. Panic buying loo roll and hand sanitiser is not loving God or our neighbour. It is giving in to fear. Checking on our elderly neighbours, washing hands and self-isolating if we think we may be unwell, is loving by being responsible.

Pray, stay and care

We must also love God and our neighbour by praying for the vulnerable, for health workers on the front line, for small businesses facing financial ruin and for those in authority making the hard decisions.

In the third century AD, as plague swept the cities of the Roman Empire, it was the Christians who stayed and cared for the sick, including those who had been persecuting them, even at the cost of their own lives.

It changed the world because no-one had ever acted like this before. Are we prepared to be as Christlike in our own response today?

Steve Fouch is head of communications at Christian Medical Fellowship. He has worked in community nursing, HIV and AIDS and palliative care.

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