Thursday, March 12, 2020

Rocks in the Tumbler as a Disease Spreads

The disease which I reference in the title is fear, anxiety, and panic. Far more infectious and harmful than COVID-19. Not that the latter isn't plenty of both. Just that the former is plenty worse.

Disclaimer: I haven't really processed much, so these aren't really settled thoughts. More like directions that things are going. You can just see the inertia of the shape and tone.

I mentioned to someone yesterday that I might preach a one-off on a Christian response to plague when I get back (I'm out of the pulpit until at least 22-March), and this was what I gave as the way my thoughts were going. It's still the same direction, despite panic around here having doubled (UMich hospital got its first case yesterday).

I only post here because, in addition to remembering that the Lord continually and completely does to me as a believer according to Christ's worthiness as my Mediator, I think that it is important that our thoughts be proactively shaped by how we ought to respond out of love for Him, our brother, and our neighbor.

I also believe that in addition to the "ordinary" parts of worship and instances (the Lord's Days) of worship, there are those parts (humiliations / fastings / vows / thanksgivings / oaths) and instances that ought to occur upon particular occasions (like a plague) of God's providence. So, a sermon like the one currently tumbling might belong to a special service rather than a coming Lord's Day.

Reminder of disclaimer: this are not settled/fully-digested thoughts.

My thoughts are varied/scattered:
  • Loving your neighbor means not unnecessarily endangering his life (sixth commandment). Precautions have a moral aspect to them.
  • We don't think about our death enough, and if providence surrounds us with some, we shouldn't waste it.
  • In a culture that is dull and even resistant to thinking about death, eternity, final judgment, we shouldn't waste the opportunity when God confronts our culture with plague.
  • Others will panic and operate primarily out of self-preservation; believers who are eternally safe in Jesus have a massive opportunity to love our neighbor.
  • Just as with foreign missions, each believer will be suited to participate in this opportunity in different ways. Not everyone is suited to plunge in among the dying and minister. The young and strong might even seek to acquire it early/quickly and get over it so that they are immune and can safely minister to others. 
  • For many of these reasons, historically, plagues have been opportunities for revival.
  • It would be rather mean in us if we did not take this as an opportunity to be grateful for the health that we have had. When a plague passes there ought to be corporately called occasions of thanksgiving by spiritual shepherds in homes and churches. In the midst of them, there ought to be corporately called occasions of humiliation and calling upon the Lord in fasting and prayer.
I would probably preach a text like the tower of Siloam.
As for origins, I doubt that we will ever know, and really the important thing is God's purposes in it. But my thoughts do wander, speculatively. This is a virus that even more-than-usually singles out those citizens whose long-term cumulative cost/benefit ratio to the state is the highest. It wouldn't shock me to find out that this is by intentional communist government design. Communism and socialism are evil enough that, even if it was not manufactured by them, those who have such views certainly wouldn't mind the outcome. How wicked and scary is that? But that would be unlikely to have a big place (if any) in a sermon.

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