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All Things are Yours

"… whether Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life, death, the present, or the future— all things are yours, but you are Christ's…" (I Cor 3)

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wisdom

God Protects Me and My Friends from Covid

A friend of mine recently wrote me about his attitude towards covid-19 and God. We’ll call my friend “Mike”:


[I want to share how I responded. First, a word about statistics: while it is hard to truly estimate the true death rate from Covid-19 because of the severe differences in mortality between ages, ethnicities, nationalities, and socioeconomic groups, it seems like 1% is the typical number that people quote in conversation. This doesn’t seem unreasonable, and it may be worth mentioning my friend is a white American male in his 50s.]

My reply:

The problem with the mindset here you are sharing about “not giving into fear” is that it is very individually centered. Covid only kills one out of every 100 people who get it, that’s what 1% fatality looks like. That means that you, and the average person in the average small church, will look around and say to themselves, “Look! Me and all my friends are recovering! See, we trusted God and it worked out!”

But this is a pandemic, and with a 1% fatality rate, it doesn’t play out on the scale that one person’s social network or church can see. Instead, a pandemic works itself out on large scale populations. So in a small church, maybe no one dies, or maybe one person dies.

But when you zoom out and look at a city, or a state, people are dying everywhere. You would see it playing out at a city’s ICU, or at a funeral home, or at a cemetery because this is where all those people end up. But among your limited group of friends, from that vista, 1% isn’t enough to make a large impact on a sample that small, so it looks like God is really on your side. And I’m not saying He isn’t — but again, when you zoom out and see a larger swath of people, for some 600,000 people in the USA, He didn’t “see them through” like you feel He did for you — many of them just as strong believers in God as you, many of them praying and being prayed for maybe more than you were.

No, this, “I’m not giving into fear” thing is all about individualism. If you move over to a more collective mindset rather than an individual mindset, one begins to see what while one thought they were trusting God to keep them safe, one was a vessel along with all their friends and church through which the virus flowed through a community like a wave. And Christians who insisted on gathering together without any masks, distancing, or vaccinations — without any “fear” as prudence gets mislabeled, these people directly contributed to the death of many people in their community. It’s impossible to see the 2, 3, or 4 degrees of separation where covid-19 got passed along until it killed someone, but everyone who died of covid so far got it from someone else, who got it from someone else. If any one of those people who could have been more cautious had done so, that chain would have been broken. Every person’s virus came from another person. Everyone who died was killed by other people’s bodies making copies of the virus which they then, sometimes without any attempt to hold it back, passed it on to other people.

But people can be myopic and only see what’s right in front of them instead of seeing the big picture. If I wear a mask, it sets an example for others — especially in my group of friends and people I fellowship with. And if I don’t, that also sets an example for others. And so covid-19 tearing through a group is also not just the responsibility of the people who get sick, but the people who sent them the message that they shouldn’t try not to. We are a body after all. I can talk about how God “saw me through” a Covid infection, but what I wish people would see is not how God sees them through covid, but how covid saw a way to get to them and through them to others — some of whom are killed, some of whom will suffer residual effects for years to come.

Not “being afraid” is so misapplied, and I wrote about the church’s mishandling of so-called “fear” long before this pandemic ever started. That’s all I have to share on this post, but since I can hear the gears turning in my readers’ minds and some are thinking about how “death isn’t something we should fight so hard to avoid” — I’m going to write about that crazy way of talking and thinking that’s been going around – in my next post.

Black and White thinking

I’ve been musing lately on the topic of “black and white thinking…”  Many christians I know consider “black and white” thinking to be a great thing…. and yet in psychological terms, “black and white” thinking is a sign of something called “splitting” which is part of the overall makeup of “borderline personality disorder.”

I think when christians eagerly embrace things as being “black and white” that it is mostly a stance that is designed to buffer against the feared tendency for people to create “gray zones” of morality.

Now the irony of this, is that nowhere in the world or nature do we see so much “GRAY” as when things actually ARE in “black and white.”  That is, the very thing that christians fear, moral ambiguity, may in fact be a byproduct of trying to always cast things in “black and white” terms.  Case in point – have you ever seen so much variety of “gray” as you see in black and white photos or black and white television?  Gray is the absolute effect of trying to view the world in black and white.

But in LIFE, we see in color.  Brilliant, beautiful, color.  Thus, the opposite of “black and white” thinking is not as many fear, “gray zone thinking.”  No…the opposite, or actually, AUTHENTIC type of mindset that “black and white” is the counterfeit of, is FULL COLOR thinking.

In full color, sometimes you still see something is actually white, or that something is actually black.  Color does not preclude the ability to actually see black where black exists and white where white truly exists.  But how often do you find yourself obsessed with black and white when you are pointing out how blue the sky is today, or how beautiful that flower is over there, or how cute that chocolate labrador retriever is with his shiny brown nose and coat?  Or how yucky the brown pollution is in the wave at the shore?

Life in the Lord is a cascade of colors.  Black and White has its place, but it’s not so prevalent as some might wish it to be.

One last thought, from the verse below:

Ephesians 3:10 – “so that through the church the manifold [literally, “multi-colored”] wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

If we dwell in black and white, we risk falling short of our calling as the people of God!

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