300 years ago one of the leading English thinkers, Thomas Hobbes, wrote the influential book "Leviathan" in which he said that the natural condition of humanity is so selfish that the only way to stop anarchy is to invent a powerful state (the eponymous Leviathan) to maintain order and save lives. Thus the irony: we can only be free if we either restrain our personal freedoms or accept the state's limits upon our lives. After all the pictures and videoes over the weekend of people not observing social distance advice, it's no surprise that the Prime Minister addressed the nation last night and significantly escalated things. Sadly in a sinful world of selfish individuals such restrictions become a necessity for all.
Although it was anticipated, I can't be the only person to be uneasy at the announcement of a lock down. Although this is a public health emergency and not persecution or suppression of the gospel, I can't be the only person who felt chills down the spine at the instruction for all places of worship and religious ceremonies (except funerals) to shut and stop. Although these new rules completely change our every day lives, as Christians we do have a God given duty to obey. Paul, writing about the Roman Empire and the Caesars - who were no friends to the small minority groups of Christians scattered across the world and just 10 years later would instigate the first great persecution in Rome which would lead to the execution of Paul himself - says:
"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good" (Romans 13:1-4)
Elsewhere in the New Testament Paul instructs us to be praying for those in authority over us:
"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
Elsewhere in the world today many of our persecuted brothers and sisters are the victims of Leviathan - they are used to restrictions on being able to gather for worship and not having freedom of conscience or expression. So as we feel upset at the things happening temporarily to us (for our good), let us remember those who face much worse every day from those who wish them harm.
So as you gather as Home Groups online tonight, please remember to pray for one another in these difficult days, but also remember to pray in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in other places too!