Thousands descended upon Lansing, Michigan, circling the state capital in vehicles to protest Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s additional lockdown measures. By executive order Whitmer made it illegal to visit family, drive to a second home or cabin, and for stores to sell non-essential items, such as garden supplies. Yet she classified liquor stores, lottery tickets, and abortion procedures as essential. Since the Michigan protest on April 15, citizens in 26 additional states have held similar demonstrations or will do so within the week.
Whitmer largely dismissed this protest as right-wing Trump loyalists holding nothing more than a political rally. As a Michigan resident, I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. People in this state—far beyond the Republican base—are observing the erosion of various liberties under the pretense of our government protecting us from COVID-19. As one protester summarized it, “Quarantine is when you restrict movement of sick people. Tyranny is when you restrict the movement of healthy people.” 1 Further, if this was nothing more than a right-wing political rally, why are states with Republican governors also experiencing similar protests?
As alarming as it is to lose our civil liberties, could God be allowing the current state of affairs to open our eyes to something much bigger—much more consequential? I believe that He is.
The final book of the New Testament includes Jesus calling five churches to turn from their sinful ways and wholeheartedly follow Him (Rev. 2:1–3:22). Also, Jesus was clear about the consequences if they chose not to repent: He would close their church doors; He would fight against His own people; He would send tribulation to the church; He would no longer give insight to His people; He would spit complacent followers out of His mouth. When Christians refuse to humble themselves through self-examination and repentance, the consequences are devastating for each church. Moreover, the entire community, city, state, and nation feel the effects.
The Bible teaches that nations generally in line with God’s will and ways often experience greater peace and freedom (Jer. 18:7–10; Psa. 33:12; 67:4). However, nations that depart from God’s purposes often experience distress and tyranny (2 Kings 11:1–21; 2 Chr. 15:1–7). Today we may be witnessing—both through the coronavirus pandemic and the people protesting their state governments—God gradually removing His hand of protection and presence from our nation. But if we only respond by demanding our civil liberties without humbly turning back to God, we will likely face fuller expressions of tyranny and other forms of devastation (Nah. 3:1–19).
Since the COVID-19 breakout, we have all heard the statements: “God is control,” “God is still on the throne,” and “God was not taken by surprise.” While each of these truths carry significant biblical weight, none of them call us to take the faith-filled action that God is calling us to right now. What is this action? God is calling us to repent individually and within our churches (2 Chr. 7:13–14; Rev. 2:1–3:22). This is His solution to everything we are facing!
Without humble repentance with the faith that moves God to intervene, we have every reason to believe that protests may eventually grow into civil unrest. When our nation crosses into civil unrest, people will become increasingly lawless. At this point governors may feel justified in employing greater authoritarian rule, which in turn may lead to a greater stripping of freedoms. All this will likely lead to further civil unrest, and so on. Will we succumb to the enemy’s age-old “divide and conquer” strategy; or will God’s people repent and become unified around His purposes to see Him bring healing to our land? According to the exhortations Jesus gave to the churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, the choice is ours.
1. O’Reilly, Andrew. Drivers Swarm Michigan Capital to Protest Coronavirus Lockdown Measures. April 15, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/drivers-swarm-michigan-capital-to-protest-coronavirus-lockdown-measures