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The Pandemic Rule of Christ

Nothing good can be said about the way the Covid-19 crisis treats its victims. Those victims include almost all the world’s population – albeit to widely varying degrees – because of the way the virus has exploited the global interconnectedness forged by business. A Christian response will inevitably be characterised not only by charity but also by deep lament.

But Christians are also called to faith and hope, in part because of the comprehensive scope of Christ’s rule and redemption. This is portrayed in Colossians 1:15-23 using the repetition of ‘all things’. The passage suggests that the gospel is good news because it has consequences for the entire cosmos; it proclaims Christ’s lordship over, and redemption of, all that exists.

The Greek roots of the word pandemic mean ‘all people’. Christ’s rule and redemption, because they encompass all that exists, can therefore be described as truly pandemic. The coronavirus may have the word crown (corona) in its name but its power is subsumed – and will eventually be defeated – by Christ. His crown of thorns stands as a symbol not only of his suffering but also of his all-encompassing sovereignty and redemption.

This is the background against which Christians in every sphere of life can confidently engage with contemporary culture, even during the current crisis. Business leaders can do so in the belief that the flourishing of individuals, communities, and nations depends on the flourishing of business.

Indeed, the crisis gives them an opportunity to rethink their company’s purpose and how it can serve the natural world, including human beings, by meeting the new and complex needs the pandemic has thrust before them. Pre-pandemic commercial practices that were unsustainable and inequitable can be abandoned, rather than reverting to ‘normal’.

Normal is, in fact, another word that bears reconsideration. It derives from a Latin word meaning a carpenter’s square – a tool used to make straight lines and accurate right angles. Debate about the ‘new normal’ must go beyond safe workplace protocols to question the social and moral benchmarks businesses should have.

To do so effectively, a second meaning of the phrase ‘the pandemic rule of Christ’ is necessary. For Christ’s rule to ‘do to others what you would have them do to you’ (Mt 7.12) is a rule as universal and comprehensive as his sovereign reign. Love is the soil from which the fresh green shoots of good business recovery will spring.

Peter Heslam

a liberating reign that is pandemic

a liberating command that is pandemic