"God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.” 2 Tim. 1:7
The recent outbreak of Ebola, which has claimed the lives of thousands of people in West Africa, is producing a fear in the lives of many outside of that region now that it is reaching across the waters into Europe and the United States. As in the past similar situations, Christians seem to be at the forefront of going in and taking care of those in need and the dying. And, as people full of faith, the church is called to step forward, not shrinking back in fear.
Over the last several thousands of years, there have been many instances where true Christ followers have been the instrument to care for the sick and the dying in the face of pandemic disease. The first Christians not only took care of their own, but at great risk to themselves, reached far beyond themselves and saved a great number of lives. Although these were not doctors, their nursing and feeding of those too weak to take care of themselves allowed many to recover instead of dying. Instead of fleeing disease and death, these Christians ministered to the sick and helped the poor, the widowed, the crippled, the blind, the orphaned and the aged.
Governments, like the Roman Empire, were forced to admire their works and dedication. During the Plague in Alexandria when nearly everyone else fled, the early Christians risked their lives by simple deeds of washing the sick, offering water and food, and consoling the dying. Their care was so extensive that Julian eventually tried to copy the church’s welfare system. It failed, however, much like many governmental systems, because for Christians it was love that motivated them, not duty.
As we look around our countries and the world, there is crisis among humanity in many different forms. It is an opportunity for us, as Christ followers, to once again step up and face each of these challenges with faith and love. We cannot depend on our governments to do the job God has called us to because government entities cannot love, only we can.
God encourages us to not fear and not to get caught up in discussions that cause fear. He encourages us to ACT in the spirit of power, love, and godly mindsets. Instead of the fear of death, social isolation, or a catastrophe, we have the opportunity to go beyond these barriers of retreat and demonstrate that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. We can show the world that by giving away our lives, we find life. How we live and how we die is our message. If we live our lives full of love in the face of crisis, perhaps like the early church, we, too, will see an outpouring of new life and real hope in God, instead of terror and flight.