A Pandemic that’s Endemic

The “Good Life”

Once upon a time, the earth and its inhabitants enjoyed shalom. While this Hebrew word may be translated “peace,” it encompasses so much more than our typical understanding of peace. Shalom is about well-being and wholeness in all areas and aspects of life, encompassing all of creation – living beings as well as the environment. It is a web of harmonious relationships between the Creator, his creatures and his creation, leading to fullness, fruitfulness and abundance of life. Once upon a time, this was the human condition, the human experience that God declared “very good” (Genesis 1:31). This was the epitome of “the good life.”

A Virus

Then came an outbreak: a revolt by creature against Creator, an uprising that released into God’s good creation the virulent virus of sin. Corona means “crown” – and the sin-virus is closely related to what a crown represents! It is a king or queen – and not a subject – who wears the crown; and this crown symbolizes rule and reign: the power to issue decrees and make decisions, as well as entitlement to allegiance and obedience.

Pandemic

COVID-19 began as a local outbreak in Wuhan, quickly became an epidemic in China, and rapidly escalated into a global pandemic.

Sin is not simply an epidemic that afflicts particular groups of people (whom we sometimes label with particular types of “sins”); nor even just a pandemic that has infected people across the globe. It is a pandemic that is endemic to all human beings, from the dawn of history to its close.

The virus of sin followed a similar pattern. It was activated when the first human beings sought autonomy from their Creator-King and refused to pledge allegiance to the Crown (Genesis 3). From there on, the virus began to propagate, spreading everywhere, infecting everyone, reaching pandemic proportions.

  • At first, the spread was localized, contained within Adam and Eve’s own family: Cain was “infected” with anger and jealousy which, uncontrolled, led to murder (Genesis 4:1–9).
  • The virus worked more aggressively in the life of Lamech, who was guilty of both bigamy and murder (Genesis 4:19-24). Lamech’s bigamy was an act of defiance against God, a refusal to submit to the Creator’s design for marriage (Genesis 2:24) and an insistence on doing things his own way. Thereafter, Lamech not only killed a young man (for a relatively minor offence) but proceeded to boast shamelessly about it.
  • By Noah’s time, sin was widespread and had reached epidemic proportions: “the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth… every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

*  *  *

COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020.
Before the month was over, it had spread to almost every country in the world.
By early April, the number of cases reported worldwide crossed the one million mark.
The number of fatalities is frightening.
Millions, worldwide, are under observation.
Many more are in quarantine.
Many live under curfew or lockdown conditions, which bring their own hardships.
Health care systems are being strained to crumbling point.
The death toll rises daily.

And yet, despite the horrifying and heartbreaking statistics, not everyone has been infected by this novel coronavirus; and many who were infected have now been cured. The virus of sin, however, is a pandemic that leaves no one untouched. Paul, writing in the first century, declared that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), warning that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The pandemic of sin has an unmerciful mortality rate of one hundred percent.

Endemic

Where a disease is continuously present in the population of a particular country or region, epidemiologists would say that it has become “endemic” – for example, Malaria is endemic in many parts of Africa, which is why visitors to these regions are advised to take antimalarial drugs prior to travel. [“Endemic” comes from the Greek endemos, made up of en, which means “in” – in contrast to epi, which means “upon” – and demos, which means “people” or “population.”]

To our sin-stricken world, the greatest of all physicians offers the vaccine of salvation (redemption). This vaccine is unbelievably costly – for it is formed out of his own blood – yet given without charge to whoever wants to receive it.

Something is endemic when it is in the people, when it becomes characteristic of a region or population. If the spread of a virus (such as the coronavirus) cannot be contained over the longer term, it could move from being a pandemic and become endemic – which means that it would be constantly present, liable to attack at any moment, causing people to fall ill.

Sin is not simply an epidemic that afflicts particular groups of people (whom we sometimes label with particular types of “sins”); nor even just a pandemic that has infected people across the globe. It is a pandemic that is endemic to all human beings, from the dawn of history to its close.

A Vaccine

Marriage Matters by Tanya Ferdinandusz

Around the world, scientists and doctors are working round the clock to develop an effective vaccination against COVID-19. Some experts estimate this could take a year or more; in addition, any vaccine that is developed is likely to be expensive, and unlikely to be widely accessible in the short term. Meanwhile, people are dying.

The remedy for the virus of sin, however, is available. It was not created in a scientist’s laboratory but conceived in the Father’s heart; it was not developed using chemicals or serums but by the blood of the Saviour; no experimentation was performed on human guinea pigs but this “vaccine” was tested and proven on the cross. Not only is it one hundred percent effective against the infection of sin, it has zero adverse side effects and several beneficial byproducts – the most precious and powerful of these being the Holy Spirit, who becomes “endemic” within us, cleaning out the infection of sin and becoming a life-giving presence within us.

Vaccines are typically produced using a weakened form of the very agent (such as a virus) that causes the disease. The vaccine of salvation was produced through the agency of Jesus – who was truly and fully human and yet uncontaminated by the sin-virus – taking upon himself the full weight of the consequences of our sin: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Today’s coronavirus-stricken world would welcome a COVID-19 vaccine with open arms. But only when someone stretches out their arm and permits themselves to be vaccinated would they be able to enjoy the protection promised by a vaccine.

To our sin-stricken world, the greatest of all physicians offers the vaccine of salvation (redemption). This vaccine is unbelievably costly – for it is formed out of his own blood – yet given without charge to whoever wants to receive it. Like any vaccine, redemption, too, takes effect in our lives only when we choose to be “injected” with it. The way to do this is by faith in the Redeemer, Christ Jesus.

“since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;
they are now justified by his grace as a gift,
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood,
effective through faith” (Romans 3:23–25).

Breaking News!

Fast forward to the future… to a day when a COVID-19 vaccine is finally ready…
Imagine the “Breaking News” transmitted urgently across every conceivable communication channel.
Imagine what newspaper headlines would say.
Imagine the stories that would be told about how it all came about.
Imagine the news spreading like wild fire on every social media platform.
Imagine friends and neighbours excitedly asking one another, “Have you heard the news?”
Imagine the long queues in every hospital and clinic.
Imagine the relief, the joy, the celebration – because healing and wholeness is within our grasp.

The vaccine against the sin-virus is already available.

But something has gone wrong –
the news hasn’t travelled far enough or fast enough,
the life-or-death importance of this good news hasn’t always been grasped,
its life-changing significance hasn’t gripped minds and hearts firmly enough.

But this is breaking, groundbreaking, news!

We must proclaim that the vaccine has been found.
We must spread the good news to every infected person.
We must send messengers to announce it in every place
– and we ourselves must be those messengers.
We must share this news – with uninhibited enthusiasm and unflagging zeal –
on every available platform.

That’s the “Great Commission” of every disciple of Jesus.

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