July 12, 2020

What is the Opportunity in Covid-19

The Opportunity –

A Prophetic Dream of the Potential for Transformation Corona Virus Gives America

Tony Stoltzfus | April 12, 2020

Note: this word came to me in a dream on Easter Sunday, April 12.

We Can Change

The first theme is that you can change, as a nation and a culture! 

As a society you have experienced trauma and pain together. No one has escaped—all are affected by this. And where there is pain, there is potential for transformation. Pain forces you to rethink your fundamental beliefs and approaches to life. So you as a country will change because of this. Will you be changed in reaction to pain and chaos, and merely act to protect yourself? Or will you be changed out of a vision of what I can do with you through this experience?

My call goes out for leadership! For visionaries who can see how God is reshaping his people, who can call you to be transformed through what I am doing for you and in you, not what the Coronavirus is doing to you. Leaders, listen for my purpose; and then speak about who I am making my people into!

This is not a time to hang onto the old, and protect what has been. The goal is not to get back what was lost—the time, the income, your jobs, money, or financial security—but to live as if you have a good future, “a better inheritance, and an eternal one.” The loss is real and painful; and yet my redemption is always bigger than the loss.

Trying to have in-person church services in the face of a shelter-in-place order is not my agenda. It’s the wrong fight, for you as a church and for your society as a whole. My people are not to communicate a message of fear, that the government is somehow taking the good news away from you (they can’t), but a message of hope: that in all things, I am working for good (Gk. Agathos = inward goodness) in those who love me, even in the midst of this pandemic. You can change, and change to become like me!

The Gift of America

The second theme is learning to share the gift of America instead of exploiting it among the nations for your own gain. 

Your God-given gift as a nation is hope: the belief that each individual can be something, that you are important, that each one has the potential to change the world. It is to look on yourselves with confidence. What it has done for you as a nation is make you leaders in the world. And yet you have often misused it for your own ends.

You want to be the best at everything: you say “we have the best health care system in the world, the best athletes, the best ideas, and we are the greatest, best country.” You chant, “We’re number 1!” As a culture, you believe other nations learn from you, you don’t learn from them. You don’t watch international news like other countries do, because you believe all the important things happen here, in America.

That is a misuse of your gift, the Creator of Cultures says. Listen: your response to the virus was not the best in the world, but among the worst. You have more cases, more deaths than any of your peers. Other nations will not listen to you on this: you must learn from them! 

I did not give you this gift of hope so that you can be the first and the best, but so you can gift it to the world. I did not give you an abundance of resources to hoard for yourself, but to lift up others by spreading your gift far and wide. I did not give you strength to seize the much-needed supplies of other nations, but to rise up and be a supply to them. Let go of your pursuit of accomplishment as a nation, of measuring yourself by the size of your military and your economy and the number of Olympic medals you win compared to others. Instead, measure with my true measure of America: with how much you bring hope to the world that each person matters, that each one is someone, that each one can change the world.

Know this, God says, that the enemy’s attack on your nation is not focused on your economy, or even your lives, but on your God-given gift. His design is to replace your hope with fear, to replace generosity with putting your own needs first, to replace the beautiful gift of concern I gave you for the welfare of others and other nations with a fear and distrust of those who are different. My people have listened to the voices of fear and outrage in the political media (on both sides of the spectrum) long enough! Come out from them, and be ye separate! You have allowed the political world to fill you with fear and disgust, and that is not my doing: it is the work of the one who comes to kill and steal and destroy.

I am calling you to learn to honor the gifts of other nations. The Asian nations have the gift of cooperation, and putting the common good before individual need. You have looked down on them and despised their gift. But now humble yourselves, and learn from them, and let your current circumstances be your teacher. 

Quarantine and social distancing have forced you to consider the needs of others over your own, even though you may not consider yourself at much risk personally. Don’t resist: learn from it! Get in step with my agenda in this, and I will make you like my Father in heaven, who is concerned for all, who sends his rain on both the just and the unjust. Follow me: as I did not count my life as my own, but gave up my life to save you, so you have the opportunity to in humility count others as worthy of the sacrifice of some of your personal independence. The more you kick back against the quarantines that are training you, and assert your individual rights in spite of them, the harder it will go for you as a nation. Instead, lean in and learn, and it will be a blessing to you!

A Blessing Economy

The third theme is moving from the beliefs of a capitalist economy to the beliefs of a blessing economy. 

My economy is not capitalist, the Owner of All says. Nor is it socialist or authoritarian. Learn from the New Testament church! They ran a blessing economy. Each owned his own property, and could dispense with it as he wished, and yet they acted according to their economic beliefs: that it is better to give than to receive; and that ‘freely you have received, freely give.’ They acted to maximize blessing, not shareholder returns.

Your nation is not like me in this. Your economic system is designed in many ways to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Have you not noticed that only a few in your society own as much as the majority? Yet in heaven, Father owns all and all of you are his heirs: all are rich, because all are blessed. Don’t become so well adjusted to your capitalist culture that you fit into it without even thinking!

 In a capitalist way of thinking, a person gets (economically) what they deserve. Therefore, your society resists giving aid to the undeserving in this crisis, when ignoring the plight of the most vulnerable is in fact one of the greatest threats the virus poses to your country as a whole. Your circumstances can teach you to be more like my Father, who lavishly loves the undeserving. All people are valuable, because I died for all. And all who believe in me will get far, far better than what their actions deserve on the last day! Follow me in this!

You believe that hard work leads to advancement, and there is truth to that. Yet this crisis is showing that many of those who are assigned little value by your economic system (police officers, paramedics, grocery store clerks, farm workers) are actually essential to the functioning of society—and to your life itself! In my economy, these ‘unpresentable parts’ who function in the background to make societies work are worthy of greater honor. And so my blessing is on those who clap every night for the health care workers in New York City. Let this crisis teach you to honor those who serve the good of all for little pay. 

And learn to function by the rules of my economic system. The stock market says, “Invest while prices are low!’ I say instead, “Make friends for yourself with the unrighteous mammon (money).” In other words, invest for the future by giving to others! Common sense says to hoard resources in a crisis. I say, “give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” Lend without expecting anything in return. If you are a business owner with resources, don’t lay off your employees—hire more! The loyalty you earn by sticking with people in their hour of need will more than repay you in time—and you will have treasure in heaven.

In the past, the poor were far away from you: in another country, in a different neighborhood, on the wrong side of the tracks. You didn’t know them, and weren’t in relationship with them. But now they are close at hand. All of you know a fellow church member who lost his job, a neighbor who can’t pay the rent, a member of your bible study who literally needs money to put food on the table. Now is the time of opportunity to learn my economy of blessing: to give and to share. If anyone has the world’s goods and sees a brother right next to him in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? But I have confidence in you, that instead the world will know that you are my followers (and they’ll get to know me) through the practical love they see you give to one another. I gave all for you: Follow Me!

Living in Harmony with Nature

The fourth theme is living in harmony with nature. 

Your circumstances have hindered or taken away your ability to work and accomplish. Have you noticed what they have given you in return? Time with family, and time to enjoy nature. When you can’t go anywhere and do anything, all you can do is enjoy those you love and enjoy my world. I am in that! Some in India are seeing the mountains for the first time, because the air has cleared. City dwellers breathe pristine air, the wildlife comes out, nature asserts herself. That pleases me, too.

Before all this you believed there was little you could do to care for my creation—that your contribution to enjoying the planet was insignificant. But look what this crisis can teach you! Your actions change things! Everyone who practices social distancing is safeguarding friends, family, neighbors, even the person you run into on the sidewalk when you are out for a walk. Your actions make a difference!

So it is my will that you rediscover your love for creation in this time. Learn to treasure what is around you, the grass and trees and blue sky. Learn to feed your soul on the beating of the rain on a rooftop, or the chirp of a robin building her nest, or the green leaves sprouting from the buds. See how life grows up all around you, unaware and unconcerned about the epidemic you face? Even the creation is teaching you to trust me! The flowers neither toil nor spin, and yet I clothe them—how much more will I do for you? 

So rediscover your love for creation, and you will rediscover your concern for it. This is not a political issue: it is between you and I. I made nature for you to enjoy and find me in, not to be conquered. So I am helping you learn to love her well. I know you do not want to go through a pandemic like this again every 20 years: let that idea motivate you to honor the creation I have given you to steward. You can change, and you can make a difference!

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