Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Different Kind of Pandemic

Coronavirus: What it does to the body - BBC News

The current COVID-19 pandemic we are experiencing is hopefully a once in a lifetime event. With something this dramatic taking place it seems prudent to look for lessons that can be applied.  In that regard, there are probably countless lessons we can learn including better preventative hygiene, proper disaster planning, leadership models (both good and bad), re-evaluation of priorities, spending a lot of concentrated family time, etc.  One aspect that occurred to me was a spiritual illustration.  Through one super spreader, Adam, the world has become infected with the sin virus.  And, if you’re a father, you’re a spreader too.  So, what spiritual lessons does this analogy offer?

Things to think about:
·      While the Garden of Eden was surely nicer than the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, the epicenter of the disease has been identified. 
o   And like in Wuhan, an animal, in this case a serpent, was the ultimate source of the disease.
o   At that time, God was acting as a sort of CDC, imploring the people to stay away from a known threat to their health.  And like some folks today, Adam and Eve believed fake news (“you will not certainly die”) leading them to ignore the warnings and pay a very heavy price.
o   They knew almost immediately they had contracted the disease and self-quarantined (they even had Personal Protective Equipment!).
§  Genesis 3:7-88 – “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”
·      As we said, Adam was the original super spreader.
o   Romans 5:12 – “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned”
·      The sin virus is invisible, 100% contagious, and deadly.
o   Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and Romans 6:23 – “the wages of sin is death”
·      The world has come up with many home remedies such as religions, good works, and philosophies
o   Romans 1:22 – “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools”
o   Colossians 3:8 – “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
o   Isaiah 64:6 – “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags”
·      The truth is Jesus is the only way to eradicate the sin virus
o   John 14:6 - Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
o   Romans 8:3-4 – “…God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us…”
·      Just like with a physical cure, you actually have to take the medicine.  It’s not enough to consider it or watch other people take it.
o   Romans 10:9-10 – “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
·      Once we’ve been cured, it is our responsibility to help others who also have been infected.
o   Mark 16:16 - Then Jesus said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is condemned.”
o   A lot of people think they won’t get sick from coronavirus because they’re too young, too healthy, or just lucky.  Of course that’s not true.
o   Similarly, many folks think the sin virus doesn’t affect them.  They’re “good people” who “try to do the right thing”.  But we know the disease is no respecter of persons.
o   How can you and I be “carriers of the cure”? 
§  Who do you know whose life is in the ICU right now and desperately needs the breath of life that only Christ can provide?

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Shredder

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit my 92 year-old aunt in Los Angeles.  She is a tough old bird, dealing with a myriad of health issues including Stage 4 lung cancer.  In the midst of it all, she hasn’t lost any of her personality and is still as bossy as ever!  While I was there, one of my chores was to shred a bunch of old documents – everything from electricity bills from 1987 to bank statements to insurance forms to receipts.  All these papers tell a story of how one’s life has been spent.  It occurred to me that one day, somebody will be shredding my stuff and what story will my life tell them?  Much of what we spend our time, talent, and treasure on won’t last.  The Apostle Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 13:13 that there are three things that won’t have a date with the Grim Shredder.

1 Corinthians 13:13 - And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Things to think about:
·      Have you ever had to clean out the belongings of a loved one?
o   What feelings did it evoke in you as you thought about the finiteness of our time on Earth?
o   Was the story their stuff told one of faith, hope, and love or something else?
·      You will probably recognize that our verse comes from the famous “Love” chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13.
o   In it Paul says that without love, many things we hold valuable like knowledge, spiritual gifts, even generosity will see the shredder if they aren’t motivated by love.
o   Why do you think that good qualities and actions like those listed above aren’t good enough on their own but must me attended by love?
·      Building on this notion of love being the ultimate asset, Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40, “”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
o   How do we know if our expenditures of time, talent, and treasure are motivated by love?  One sure test is are they bringing glory to God and/or serving others.
o   Philippians 2:3-4 – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
o   Matthew 25:40 – “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
·      How does today’s study cause you to reflect on not just how you are spending your life but on whom?
o   On another day when someone is going through your boxes, what story do you hope they are reading?
o   How can we live a life of love to keep stuff away from the Shredder and safely in the hands of the Shepherd?