Friday, May 1, 2020

“We’re All In This Together?”

Nearly 19 years ago, the United States was attacked by 19 terrorist who flew four aircraft into the twin towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Virginia, and into a field in Pennsylvania. After that attack, the United States went to war against, first the Taliban in Afghanistan and then against the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. The latter war effectively ended several years ago, although there are still U.S. troops in Iraq. But the war in Afghanistan still continues to this day, howbeit with a much smaller footprint.

It wasn’t long after the attacks, that you could see the saying “God Bless America” plastered everywhere: billboards, placards, signs, lawns, etc. Every broadcast by just about any politician ended with the same refrain. As a matter of fact, even the congress got into the act as one united body, for one bright moment. Shortly after the attacks, the entire congressional delegation got together on the steps of the capitol building to sing the famous song. Of course, the unity and good will that the attacks precipitated did not last long. As you can witness all around you today, God has been relegated to the back pages of the classifieds, so to speak, and for a politician to speak of God today is to do so at his own peril.

Fast forward to today and to the current crisis. This time, the attack did not come from terrorists, or even from humans at all. Sure, there are many making noise about how the Chinese created the COVID virus in a laboratory and let it loose on the world. But so far, that is little more than rumors and innuendo. But whether the virus was in fact the creation of some fertile and devilish mind or it came about through natural means, the fact is that the world is pretty much in its grip. At last count, over 3 million human beings had been infected with the virus and over 200,000 worldwide had died. Of that total, more than 60,000 deaths had been recorded in the United States alone. And that is not to even mention the economic and psychological damage that has been imposed on the world

We can all argue as to whether this virus is a judgement from God or not (it is). But the reality is that the effect that it has had on our society is nothing short of astounding. Whereas nearly 20 years ago we heard “God Bless America” coming from the lips of just about every man, woman, and child in America, today it’s all about “being in this together.” One is forced to asked, just what does being in it together have to do with anything? People speak of being together in this time as though the mere fact that we’re together has some sort of magical effect on the virus or even on us.

The truth is that there is no magic elixir that is conferred upon humanity simply because they stick together in the face of some problem. But guess what? As with anything else that humans think they come up with, the Bible already spoke about “being together” millennia ago. When the apostle Peter spoke in his first letter to the Christians being persecuted by Nero, he reminded them that “knowing that the same afflictions are being felt by your brothers who are in this world” (1 Peter 5:9). But the context of this verse is quite different to what the world today calls togetherness.

You see, Peter was not telling Christians, “gee guys, all you have to do is hang together and sooner or later things will start looking up.” Rather, he told them that it was imperative for them to know that they were not the only ones suffering the persecutions that were then afflicting the church. But more importantly, he told them that they were to cast their cares on the Lord, because He cared for them, just like He cares for His own today. No magic potion and no hocus pocus. Simply the fact that God is sovereign and that He is always looking out for His children.

So, the answer is not to “be in this together.” The answer, instead, lies in the fact that we need to look to the Father of Lights, and repent of our sin which in one way or another has brought this judgment upon the world. The tragedy in all this goes beyond the deaths and the suffering that have come upon the world. The real tragedy is that, in the face of all the suffering and death, people still refuse to acknowledge the God of heaven. They would rather hang together in their unbelief, than break free of the groupthink and embrace the truth that saves. May the Lord grant that many will eventually see this whole insanity for what it is.

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