March 10, 2020
Ever since the first story of the coronavirus outbreak in China, people have been freaking out. Most of what you hear from person to person spreads faster and more dangerously than the virus itself. There is so much misinformation out there. The surgeon general says more people will die this year by far from influenza (and do so every year) than will be affected by the virus. The people who have died so far have generally had more wrong with them than the virus, and were at special risk.
Of course, we should be careful and intentional and do what it necessary and sanitary. Everyone says, “Be sure and wash your hands!” as if it is a new thing. Isn’t that what we should be doing with regularity all the time? But being wise and exercising caution is far different than panicking.
Three thoughts about this, particularly as believers:
First, we should be the last to panic. How we respond in a crisis speaks volumes about our faith in God. We should not be adding to the struggle by running to the store and buying up masks. The medical community says that in some places people who have absolutely no need for masks have bought them in such volume that medical personnel who actually need the protection for ordinary surgeries, etc., cannot get them. And toilet paper? How is it possible that communities with no suggestion of a corona case have stocked up so much in case of a shutdown that stores have run out? Faith-filled believers have no legitimate reason to be a part of this. [Here is a list of past viruses that spread fear like wildfire over the years: SARS (2002) Influenza (2009) Ebola (2014) Zika (2015) Plague (2017]
Then, we should be characterized by reasonable caution but a total lack of fear of death that gives us compassion and courage. Caesar said of the early Christians, “Christians take better care of the Romans than Romans do.” Why? Because the confidence and love of Christians enabled them to say, “Give us your sick and hurting, the ones no one wants, the people whose situations make you want to run. We will take them. We will care for them.” And they did.
They knew and followed the One who had conquered death: Jesus Christ. The fear of death had no grip on them, so it freed them up to serve and live with a sense of freedom. The New Testament speaks clearly to this and what Jesus did to empower us to face our fears:
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. Hebrews 2:14-15
And last, the fear epidemics we have when any new threat raises its head every year or so makes me wonder why we don’t fear the most dangerous virus of all. Reports on the virus says that 81% of the cases have been mild, with rapid recovery, and there has been a 2.3% fatality rate. Compare that with sin. Sin affects 100% of the population. Even the people who have what we would consider “mild cases” have a death sentence without treatment. One hundred percent of people with untreated sin die spiritually, and eventually physically, being separated from God. Why don’t we spend our precious energy fighting that and sharing the cure?
Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28
Satan is the one who spreads sin. We need to fight his tactics and the contagion of sin with all our energy. If we would have the same attitude we have toward the coronavirus toward that which can really kill, this would be a different world.
Wash your hands because germs are everywhere. Share Jesus because He is the only cure for sin and death, and humans are 100% infected.