A higher standard

Back in the early part of this century many people in positions of leadership were looking to the year 2020 as a goal for fulfilling their vision of the future.  It seemed logical at the time.  After all, 2020 is the number we relate to perfect vision. How convenient was that?   All kinds of goals were set, plans were made to reach those goals, and forecasts were made about the benefits of reaching those goals.  The closer we got to 2020, the greater the anticipation.  It was going to be a time of great jubilation, and the first couple of months seemed like we were headed that way.  The stock market was gaining record highs; we had full employment figures for the first time in a very long time, and it seemed like things were going very well.  Then, came the Corona virus.
 
It started off as a whimper.  Most of us were caught off guard.  What is a corona, and why is it being used to talk about the flu?  News reports were sketchy.  There were a lot of conflicting rumors.  Government officials weren’t helping to clarify things, either.  There were some news reports of outbreaks in places like China and Italy, but surely it wouldn’t happen here.  And then, the  next thing we knew, the whole world  was shut down.
 
Quarantine was a word that I had previously only seen on old cowboy shows.  Now I was living it.  Day after day of being cooped up in my little condo was bad, but that wasn’t the worst part.  The worst part was the anxiety that came from not knowing what was going to happen next.  People were dying at an alarming rate. Hospitals were filling up to overflowing.  Grocery store shelves were being emptied. Toilet paper was being hoarded. And everyone was told to wash their hands, wear a mask, and stay six feet  apart. 
 
By mid-March the whole world was on lock down as the virus spread unabated. The daily reports were filled with graphs showing the rapid escalation of new cases and deaths.  We now all became very familiar with the meaning of the word “pandemic.”  People everywhere got serious about protecting themselves as best they could.  We made masks of old T-shirts and assorted materials.  We only went out when necessary, and we even went so far as to shut down the church.  No one saw this in their 2020 vision.
 
Months went by before we saw the numbers show any sign of improvement, but slowly the number of new cases began to flatten out, and things were beginning to improve.  It looked like we were going to be able to return to normal, only now we were calling it the “new normal.”  We knew it wasn’t over, but it looked like it could be easily managed if we stayed the course.  But the stress of being cooped up for months, along with the loss of jobs, and the financial pressures associated with this, gave way to excesses as the restrictions were eased.

At first, it didn’t look like there was much of a consequence to this “reopening”.  People were still cautious and careful, but it didn’t take long before complacency set in and the numbers began to climb.  Now we are seeing politicians reverse course and tighten restrictions again, but that is a tough thing to sell.  Let’s face it, people are tired of being told what to do, where they can go, and that they have to wear a face mask.  I get it, I don’t like it either.  But what are we going to do?  Ignore the facts?  Expose ourselves and those around us to the threat of a viral infection that could lead to severe illness and possible death?
 
As followers of Christ I believe we are called to a higher standard than personal preferences.  In fact, the way I read the Bible, I believe we are called to love one another just as Christ loved us.  When the apostle Paul wrote about this kind of love he said, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way …” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).  What a great reminder of the way in which Christ calls us to live out our commitment to him especially in this time of high anxiety and irritability over our circumstances.  While  2020 didn’t turn out the way we thought it might, it still has the potential to lead us to greater gains if we will follow the teachings of Christ and demonstrate how faith in him can lead to a better world.
 
Pastor Paul