As we all contemplate each day’s shifting, winding, unpredictable news alerts about our current distress, it is worth recalling some important and perhaps stabilizing truths that shift the perspective of disciples toward more lofty and comforting thoughts. It is always wise to look at the current state of affairs and reflect on discipleship to see if there are things we might be missing. Let’s remember: God is always active in our lives. He is not a disinterested party. And His involvement has one central purpose: to save us. So perhaps there are some things happening in our world today to pause over and consider.
One of the most discomforting things about this situation is its uncertainty. And that has always been a point of temptation that our adversary exploits at each opportunity. Anxiety is an enemy of faith. And when under its influence, we seek for tangible things to grasp. Who among us has not listened with rapt attention to the daily news conferences, expert advice, science-based projections – all in an attempt to calm our nerves about our uncertainty? The fact is, we don’t like not knowing. But there’s something worse. As Mark Twain noted, “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”
What We Know
One of the points of emphasis that our experts continue to grapple with is the “mortality rate.” We’re told this is a slippery figure, because it is a ratio of those who have died (the numerator in a fraction), to all those who have been exposed (the denominator in a fraction). The lower we can get this ratio, the better we feel. And many offer comfort by suggesting that we really don’t know the denominator – we don’t know how many people have been infected. (Note: The larger the denominator in a fraction, the lower the ratio, or mortality rate.) But the fact is, we don’t know either number very precisely, and many with ulterior motives might be tempted to fudge these numbers for an outcome that is favorable to their cause. The fact is, it’s hard to find two people to agree on how either number should be computed.
But here’s something we do know. While we are being stroked and relieved when someone suggests the mortality rate is less than 1%, perhaps even less than 0.1%… the truth is this: the human mortality rate is 100%. We are all going to die – save for the final coming of Jesus. That is inescapable. And with that being so, perhaps our focus should shift.
What Are We Worshiping?
Human discovery has brought unimaginable advance for mankind over the past several thousand years. Whatever your belief about the age of the earth, the knowledge mankind has gained just in the last 1000 years is almost unbelievable. Think not? Go back and watch a science fiction film from just 50 years ago that projects into the 21st century or beyond… and what you are likely to find is that what was imagined a half century ago was pretty tame, when compared to what has actually emerged. That’s certainly true with medicine as well.
Health is a good in our society. It is a God-given commodity for our enjoyment. Solomon observed in his treatise on the meaning of life this:
Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. – Ecclesiastes 11.9
God does not begrudge us enjoyment of the things life on earth has to offer. These are blessings from the hand of God, after all. He made the enjoyable things of this realm for man to enjoy and take pleasure in. The final words of the verse offer a notable caution: we will be judged by what role these things play in our lives. But it is our choice, and simply enjoying life on earth is not wrong.
Also, Paul wrote in the New Testament that our physical health is something we ought to pay some attention to:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God. You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6.19-20
But this raises an important question. In this time of uncertainty, of fear, of anxiousness… who are we primarily listening to? This disease we are all terrified of, is not anything new. So why are we afraid? Could it be because we have come to worship our health? And now that there is a tangible threat, we are turning to our health experts to deliver us? Does our post-modern world encourage us to believe that our fate lies in the hands of human doctors? Are we convinced that our only hope is to search for a medical cure?
Our obsession with all of the paraphernalia that goes along with this – flattening curves, social distancing, masks, quarantining, etc. – is telling. And it’s not a very flattering tale. We seem convinced that if any of us die from this virus, it would be an extraordinary circumstance and an indictment of our leaders for their failure to protect us. Just who is it we’re worshiping?
Our Lives Are Hidden In Christ
Our health is a good thing – without it we cannot effectively serve God. But our health is not the ultimate thing. Yes, we ought to be careful, take precautions, protect those most vulnerable. But we cannot put our trust in bio-technology or vaccines or medical science in general. We need to remember that, even if we are struck down by this, even if we die from this, it does not threaten our souls.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. – Colossians 3.2-3
May grace reign through righteousness in your life.
– Bo Couchman