Thoughts Spurred by the Coronavirus Plague      

By New Christian Bible Study Staff

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. In this view, the protein particles E, S, and M, also located on the outer surface of the particle, have all been labeled as well. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

1. The coronavirus plague is a terrible thing. It makes people sick. It kills some of them. It scares lots of people. It keeps people from getting together to do things they want to do. It tanks the stock market, wiping out life savings and opportunities. People lose their jobs and businesses. It's bad!

2. Does God will bad things to happen? No. (See True Christian Religion 43.)

3. Did God set up a universe in which bad things CAN happen? Yes. Apparently. (If you accept that there's a God, etc. -- which will need to be another thread...)

4. What do you suppose IS God's will in all this? Here's one piece of an answer: One good outcome of this plague could be for us all to see and experience people helping each other, and nations helping each other. It's patchy, to be sure, but... just as one example, the efforts to develop an effective vaccine have been aided by a fairly early publication of the virus's makeup. There's sharing of epidemiological data. There's communication. There's compassion. We see healthcare workers bravely taking care of sick, contagious people. There are groups in my hometown who have been sending surplus medical supplies from here to places that badly need them.

As human beings, we have the chance to respond well, or respond badly, to this crisis. I think it's God's will that we should respond well. We certainly can, and should, argue about what that would look like. But if our main motive is to love our neighbor as ourselves, some good things will happen.

There's something that relates to this in the philosophy of Stoicism, i.e. that you cannot control all the things that will happen to you, but that you CAN control how you respond.

From Swedenborg's Works


True Christian Religion #43

True Christian Religion (Chadwick translation)      

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There are two things which make up the essence of God - love and wisdom; but there are three which make up the essence of His love - loving others than oneself, wishing to be one with them, and devoting oneself to their happiness. The same three make up the essence of His wisdom, because, as I have shown above, love and wisdom are one in God. It is love which wills these things, wisdom that puts them into effect.

[2] The first essential, loving others than oneself, is to be recognised in God's love towards the whole human race. On this account God loves everything He has created, because they are the means to an end, and if you love the end, you must love the means. Everyone and everything in the universe are other than God, because they are finite and God is infinite. God's love goes out and extends not only to good people and things, but also to evil people and things; consequently, not only to people and things in heaven, but also to people and things in hell, not only to Michael and Gabriel, but also to the Devil and Satan. For God is everywhere and from eternity to eternity the same. He says too that He makes His sun rise upon the good and the evil, and sends rain upon the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). But it is the fault of evil people and things that they are evil, because they do not receive God's love as it is, and as it most inwardly is, but as they are. It is the same as a thorn or a nettle receiving the heat of the sun or the rain.

[3] The second essential of God's love, wishing to be one with others, is to be recognised also in His linking Himself to the heaven of angels, the church on earth, to everyone in it, and to every good and truth which compose and make up men and the church. Love regarded in itself is nothing but a striving to be linked. Therefore to realise this essential of love God created man in His image and likeness, so that he could be linked with this. It is clear from the Lord's words that the Divine Love has linking as its constant aim, when He says that He wishes to be one with them, He in them and they in Him, and that the love of God might be in them (John 17:21-23, 26).

[4] The third essential of God's love, to devote Himself to the happiness of others, is to be recognised in everlasting life, which is blessedness, bliss and happiness without end, which He gives to those who receive His love into themselves. For God, just as He is Love itself, is also blessedness itself. For every love breathes out an aura of joy from itself, and the Divine Love breathes out the very height of blessedness, bliss and happiness for ever; so God makes the angels and men after death happy from Himself, which He does by being linked with them.

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

True Christian Religion 85

Other New Christian Commentary
Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

To bless means to make holy or to make happy. By means of blessing the Lord fills us with all that is good.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Bringing Happiness to Others
What are some ways that you can contribute to the happiness of other people?
Activity | Ages over 15

 He Makes His Sun Rise on the Evil and the Good
Illustrate the sun shining or the rain falling and being received by two very different kinds of plants: a thorny bush and a fruit tree.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 How the Lord Loves Us
Ideas and questions to help you reflect on how much the Lord loves us and opens His arms to us, inviting us into His embrace.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Improving Relationships
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Jesus Prays
Jesus finished His farewell speech with a three-part prayer; that He be united with the Father; that the disciples might be united with Him; and that all believers might be unified.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Our Covenant with the Lord
Lesson and activities exploring our covenant with the Lord and how we can respond to His love.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Receiving the Lord's Love
 What are some of the qualities that you love in your family and friends that may reflect their reception of the Lord’s love? 
Activity | Ages over 15

 Responding to the Lord's Love
 Picture the Lord “opening His arms and inviting you into His embrace” (see TCR 787). What is holding you back, separating you from the Lord? 
Activity | Ages over 15

 Selected Quotes: The Lord's Love
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 What Are Covenants?
God longs for partnership with humanity. The Word of God teaches actions that bring us into covenant with Him.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Why Be Religious? The Attainment of Happiness
Article | Ages 15 - 17

Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.