As I write this, the Coronavirus (COVD-19) has created quite the uproar all over the world. There are almost 500 confirmed cases in the United States and 19 people have died. Apparently, there is a toilet paper shortage and people are flocking to the grocery for water and hand sanitizer. I’m not sure why people are feeling the need to stock up on bottled water, I’m pretty sure that no matter the future of this virus, our faucets will still be working.
I stood in line at the airport bathroom yesterday, not to get in, but to wash my hands. That’s a good thing. People need to spend more time washing their hands. Viruses spread through human contact and we can cut down on the spread by simply washing our hands. There are some that believe the coronavirus panic is actually helping decrease the spread of influenza that IS a virus we should be concerned about! The Centers for Disease Control (really smart science people who know what they’re talking about) predicts at least 12,000 Americans will die from influenza in any given year and 61,000 people died in the US in the 2017-2018 flu season.
I just got back home from a conference of 5,000 people in Orlando. I know several other conferences that were cancelled the same week in Orlando. The panic is so bad that SxSW has actually been cancelled!! I know my medical friends are all scratching their head at the panic. We should be wise and not kiss the face of a feverish friend and washing our hands is always a good idea, but a run on toilet paper and bottled water seems to be illogical and based in fear.
God tells us that perfect love casts out all fear. There are plenty of things we could be fearful of in our world and lives. Contagious illnesses, bad weather, car wrecks, schizophrenic homeless people, violent people with guns, terrorist, human trafficking, and much worse in other parts of the world. Things that could paralyze us from ever leaving the house. But God encourages us not to live in fear. It is HIS will and HIS Kingdom that should be foremost in our thoughts and drive our actions.
As I write this, there are riots brewing in Delhi. Radical Hindus in the Muslim areas of the city have incited riots and burned, beaten, and killed dozens of Muslims. Premkant Baghel, a Hindu man, ran into a burning building to save his Muslim neighbors from the rioting crowd that had torched the Muslim family home. He is now fighting for his own life as he tries to recover from his burn injuries. It was his love for his neighbors that compelled him to show such sacrificial love. As Christians, the love that dwells inside us through the power of God and his Holy spirit should compel us to AS RADICAL of actions.
I’m reminded of the MULTIPLE times through human history when it was the Christians that stayed with the sick and dying and cared for them when the rest of the world was running in the opposite direction. Christianity spread during plagues as their followers would stay and hold the hands of the dying and this became a witness to the world of radical love. Starting in the second century with the Antonine Plague and then the third century with the Plague of Cyprian through the Great Plague of London, Mother Theresa and most recently Ebola. Plagues can actually be an opportunity for those of us who believe in a Higher Power to show the world what faith and trust in that High Power is all about.
As Christians, we are called to a higher calling of listening to the voice of God and being obedient to that voice. Sometimes the world will view our actions as odd or maybe even ludicrous. But if we act first in LOVE and not fear, then always, our actions will be a reflection of the grace and love and mercy that we have received from Jesus, who never leaves us but always runs towards us.