Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Is H1N1 the Worst Pandemic Yet?

In less than a week, I have
  • met with a registered nurse to talk about a workshop to share information with our church members about prevention and dealing with the flu, specifically H1N1 or "swine flu,"
  • read and signed an information sheet from the Center for Disease Control regading the flu,
  • dealt with the fallout from a parent who wanted all children who had someone in their family suffering from the flu in the last week to stay home from church,
  • been bombarded from the media with information about the flu,
  • made my own attempt to get a regular flu shot from a drive-through offering, and
  • even went home one day early because I thought I might be experiencing symptoms (apparently a mild migrane).

I have no desire to minimize anyone's concern about the flu. It is tough for anybody to deal with; it can be very dangerous for many; and a reasonable mind would suggest precaution for all of us.

But the worst global pandemic we, as a nation, or we, as a global community (if you prefer that sort of term) face today is the same pandemic the much smaller global community faced in FDR's day, in Martin Luther's day, and in Noah's day as well-sin and a lost world. Each generation has a new set of political, economic, health, and financial issues to face. But no matter how diverse these might be, every generation, every family, and for that matter, every individual must face the pandemic of sin and separation from God because of it.

Many years ago when I was teaching an adult couples' Sunday School class I decided to start the lesson in a different manner one Sunday morning. After our normal fellowship, announcement, and prayer time, I looked at them all and said, "I need to share something with you. None of you knew me in my younger days and are not aware of the lifestyle I led. Because of a very sinful and promiscuous lifestyle combined with regular use of intraveinous drugs I have contracted AIDS."

After a collective gasp sucking all the oxygen out of the room, I continued, " doing lots of research and study of herbal remedies, changing many eating and exercise habits, and an overall change in lifestyle, I have discovered a cure for AIDS and am now AIDS free. I know that some of you might say, 'WOW! You need to tell others who are dying of AIDS how they can be cured, too.' But I don't want to push my discovery on them. After all, I found the cure by myself; so can they if they really want it. It would be very presumptive on my part to assume that they are ready for the cure."

As I saw many puzzled looks I further stated, "Somebody who knows them better can tell them; after all, they might reject me because they don't believe me." As some in the class began to catch on, I clarified, "Of course, I don't have AIDS but I once was infected with a completely deadly and 100% eternally fatal disease, sin! Christ offered me the cure and I am now healed from the penalty of that disease. Should we not be as eager to share that cure as we would be if we actually had discovered a cure for AIDS?" All agreed that, indeed, we should. I then opened my Bible and study notes and continued the lesson on evangelism.

Am I saying that I share the "cure" for sin as eagerly and often as I should? I am embarrassed and ashamed to confess that I don't. Is it comforting to believe that it's not just me but most Christians are just as guilty? Not at all! When I see the fervor with which some parents protect their children from a physical virus and the degree to which our government will go to inform everybody in our country, I am even more convicted that the level of my sharing needs to increase dramatically. Could it be that while we say with our mouths that sin is the eternally condemning pandemic, our actions actually do say that H1N1 is the worst pandemic yet? Just a thought for today.

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