Evil and tragedy can creep into the cracks of the fortresses of our lives when we feel the most immune to them. Sudden sufferings surprise great civilisations and individuals alike. Many Western people are worried about Third World boogie-men who, in our ever shrinking world, no longer seem so far away.
Allowing for the fact that money making media mongrels have a vested interest in keeping the public perpetually panicked, the fact remains that life in this world is never really secure. Far more people will die of cancer this year than the Ebola (but it will get much less news). Blind car accidents will probably claim more innocent lives than the violently envisioned armies of ISIS. Evil and suffering are here and they often get to us through the back door while most of us are panicked about what the radio, the websites and the TV says will come through the front door. As a Daily Mail’s headline read a week ago: Terror as Gigantic Muslim Spiders Bring Deadly Ebola to UK. A joke, but one that reflects real fears from real problems.
To the world around us we Christians must seem rather absurd standing around our little tables of bread and wine. From the slightest sink in the stock market to feared global meltdown we are called to a place of peace, joy and strength. We are not foolish. We do not diminish the dangers. What we are is aware that there is a life far more secure and infinitely more precious than what this short existence on earth can ever possibly offer.
We are faced with a disease whose destructive power is greater than the Ebola to which we should give sober attention. This disease has an infection rate of 100% and it has killed everyone who has caught it. I speak of the “disease” of sin. ISIS is not the tragedy of human existence; death is. You have sinned and because of that a death bed is coming for you and no WHO program on earth can stop it. Though an ISIS beheading might be dramatic and cause panic, most people die slower (and often more painful) deaths through the rather undramatic process of old age.
My children will die someday whatever I may feel about it. They may die young or old; slowly or quickly. The tragedy is that they will die. For this symptom and the far more evil reality of sin which causes it there is but one cure: the bread and the wine. That absurd meal which we gather around to help us remember the one cure that’s infinitely costly yet available to all people. Through that symbolic meal we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for sin and the victory over death in his resurrection. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” I can only protect my children to a limited degree for a short period of time. The real treasure I can give them is to point them to everlasting life so that whenever and however they face death it can be without fear.
For those of us who know Jesus, let us continue to pray for those sick with diseases. Let’s pray and work against evil forces and armies which are at work in this world. Let’s not put our trust in running for the hills or storing up thirty-seven years’ worth of bottled water. Our treasure, our lives, are not here to be so lost.