One of the most fascinating things going on during our current pandemic is the idea that the government's job is to keep people "safe". Somehow this idea of being "safe" has literally taken over our culture as our number one value in just a matter of weeks. In the "good old days" of about 2 months ago, people would say to each other as they parted, "Have a good day!" Currently people are saying to one another "stay safe". Can you imagine being able to change how the world interacts in such a basic way? This concern about being "safe" has not just become a new parting phrase between people, but a new cultural obsession that is beginning to define how we see our lives. Whereas we used to be enjoying our lives, our new focus is just being "safe".
Now there is nothing wrong with being "safe" and there is nothing wrong with making safety a priority in life, because if we are not safe we won't be able to enjoy life. But an important question is begging to be answered that few want to answer. That question is this: Are there any other things in life that are more important than "staying safe"? If keeping people "safe" is the main virtue of life, then there isn't anything we shouldn't be willing to make sure that happens, even if those measures are extreme. As an example, this goal of keeping us "safe" has become such a mission for some of our leaders that they have decided to do it without the support of the rule of law under the Constitution. Have you noticed? As a result, we are beginning to see people's fundamental rights being denied for the sake of keeping people "safe". Right now, millions of people are under house arrest, confined to their homes, others are being fined and a few have even been shot in certain areas of the world so they can be kept "safe" by their governments. And let it be said that none of these actions are ever being taken by anyone who doesn't think they are doing "good" for the world.
But what if we decided to quarantine, fine, arrest and/or imprison people for smoking a cigarette to keep people "safe"? Would that be OK? Surely smoking is not safe for the smoker and the people around them. After all, last year over 480,000 people in the US died from the effects of smoking and 41,000 of those deaths were from "second hand smoke"...totally innocent people. This number is dramatically more than the total pandemic deaths from the entire world to date. So, if any society finds things that make us "unsafe" should we be able to stop those behaviors in any way our leaders see fit in order to keep us "safe"?
As we review the complex issues surrounding "staying safe" what would Jesus say? What would Jesus do? Does the Lord Jesus Christ have anything to say to the world He created and redeemed that every person should be thinking about right now? The most important thing our Lord tells us about our lives is that they are about MORE than just living and preserving our lives. In Matthew 6:25-27 our Lord talks about what should matter to us in life,
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
In this important text, our Lord says that life is far more important to Him than just keeping it going. Life is more important than food, clothing and even being "safe". In the end, life has a purpose that transcends just maintaining it. Humanity was made for the Lord, not just living for this life. Once that transcendent purpose is lost life's meaning and value will be lost, even to us. And that thought explains why so many people are afraid of the pandemic and needing someone, even the government, to keep them "safe". Sadly, many people are afraid to die because they have NOT found any purpose for their life. For them, this life is it and when this life ends that is the end of what their experience of life was all about. That view of life during this pandemic is all about now, not forever. The idea of a wonderful future life with the Lord Jesus Christ is sadly not in view at any level. As a result, untold millions of people have turned to the government as their "savior" for this life.
You see the Christian life has never been about living a "safe" life. The moment we begin to seek security and a "safe" life is the moment we will lose the entire meaning of life itself. That has to be true because IF we lock ourselves in our houses for 100 years in a "safe" way, we still die. That is the one issue that is being totally lost in this current pandemic discussion. No government or anyone can keep us "safe" regarding death because 1 out of 1 people die as a result of living in this fallen world. Yes, taking extreme measures to keep us "safe" may or may not result in some additional time; but death still claims us in the end.
And this exact issue is one of the greatest things that Jesus would like to talk to the world and His Church. When we seek to keep our life, or save it, we lose it. But when we surrender our life to the Lord and His purposes for us, we end up finding our life and its real meaning. You might say we find our real life and life eternal at the same time, while focusing on this life alone leads us to losing the meaning of life now and forever. Our Lord spoke well about this issue in Matthew 16:25-26,
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
It turns out that this entire pandemic is one of the most revealing issues that has ever been given to the human race because it helps us understand what is really important in life from the Lord's perspective. The pandemic has revealed the values of every person on earth in ways no one could ever imagine. The pandemic is showing us that there are people who want to live a "safe" life, whatever that means, even though it is not possible for people to even know what life is really about without God. At the same time, there are people who want to gain the whole world with their growing power and control over others in this chaos. For these individuals the temptation to be as "god" through their manipulation of the political, economic and media aspects of life has been too much of a temptation for them. They have chosen to accept the seduction from the Garden and its short-term benefit to themselves to be little "gods". This is the group our Lord Jesus warned us not to be like because it would steal our very souls from us. That, in the end, is the greatest tragedy of all, giving our soul away for nothing that lasts.
As the pandemic's effect on all of us continues to unfold, we can begin to see it is really ALL about the Lord and our lives in this life and the next. Each of us is being given an opportunity to decide what is important to us. Is this life and being "safe" all there is, or our lives all about the Lord and living with Him forever. That is the choice before us. We are coming to the end of the age, can anybody miss that, with the same question the Lord put before Israel following the Exodus out of Egypt. Egypt, then and now, has always been a place of slavery to the world and its false views regarding the real meaning of life. In Deuteronomy 30:19-20 we hear the powerful choice the Lord sets before humanity in every generation,
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
If there was ever a time to choose life, to choose the Lord Jesus Christ and to find real life in this life in our Lord alone it is NOW. Let's all choose well and run from the world's false views of being "safe" and "secure", concepts that are but an illusion of this fallen world and its' lies from the beginning.