Happily, in the midst of the fear contagion, one news commentator, CNN's Jeffery Toobin, offered some pretty good sense this last week whilst one of his colleagues was almost literally whipped into a frenzy over the chance of dying by one of the aforementioned malignancies. Toobin said, "Now, wait a minute, just calm down here! I think we are totally over-reacting to both ISIS and EBOLA. Did you know, that every day in America 92 people die in a car crash? That's a high number. But, to date, nobody, nobody from America has died of the EBOLA virus."
If I can just pause here for a moment to reflect on the fact that two of the major calamities facing the world today have been boiled down to abbreviations and acronyms. "ISIS" or "ISIL" stands for, "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria." The name "Ebola", and as much as the news media are covering the disease but not giving us any real information, comes from the name of the river in the Republic of Congo from which many of the viruses have developed - the "Ebola River". The actual disease is known as, "Filoviridae Virus". I was wondering if by giving these two atrocities acronyms or abbreviations if it doesn't give us a kind of nonchalant sense control over the things that scare us. We have given them nicknames, like calling your husband "Monty" instead of "Montesque". But back to what I want to mainly focus on for this week's blog post.
What I wonder, amidst the terror that most Americans are feeling right now, is how Christians should respond to the recent events in the world. Three thoughts come to my mind:
1. We Should Not Over-React
The world is a dangerous place. Always has been, always will be. Our own personal lives are really no more at risk than they ever have been. Compared to the rest of the world, we, Americans live a pretty safe existence.
2. We Should Live In the Present Moment
A few days ago, one of the wisest people I know, my Spiritual mentor and Counselor, Rev. Dr. Gordon Hess, gave me some very good advice. He said to me, "Living in authentic Christian experience means living in the NOW. The past only exists in so far as we bring the past into the present. The future only exists as we are hopeful about it. We have three choices. We can have regret about the past, or we can have anxiety about the future. We humans live between regret and anxiety. The better path is to live in the present moment."
Most of the commentary about ISIS or Ebola hinges on hypotheticals about what might happen. ISIS might infiltrate the United States. Ebola might have an outbreak here. ISIS might not be conquerable by air-strikes. Ebola might not have a cure. And the list goes on. Notice, the hypotheticals are always focussed on the worst possible outcome. Nobody has said, for example, "Members of the Islamic State might see the light, become Yahweh fearing, lead a movement of Democracy in the Middle East." No-one ever says, "Ebola is totally beatable and winnable if we all work together on this."
3. Most Important, Christ Followers Should Throw Ourselves Into the Fight to Meet These Crises
Even though the chances of you and I contracting EBOLA are extremely slim, they aren't slim for a 2 year old little boy now living in Monrovia who has no mother or father. Millions of people need our help in African countries being impacted by the EBOLA virus. Even though the possibility of being beheaded by ISIS is almost non-existent for us, the perils facing some of the oldest Christians on the face of the earth - those living in Iraq are extremely grave. Quite literally, the Christian progeny of Abraham and Sarah, are, as we speak, being nearly eliminated from the face of the earth. We should make their plight our own plight, and their concern our own concern.
In three weeks, Mission Street Church will be launched. Check out our new website for ways that we will be trying to address sanitation, hydration and clean drinking water as a church through Lifewater International:
In the meantime, stay calm, live in the present and love your neighbor as God loves you!
All For Now,