“Worldwide cases of swine flu climbed to 236 on Thursday, a day after global health authorities warned that swine flu was threatening to bloom into a pandemic and notched up their alert system to the second highest level” (MSNBC.com). The outbreak is the top story on every news channel, in every newspaper, the topic around every water cooler and dinner tables. People are panicking and fear is spreading at a rate that far exceeds the virus itself.
Watching the news at the gym, I was struck by the image of a global map tracking the spread of this deadly virus. The infected states would “light up” as the virus spreads from state-to-state from Mexico northward through the United States on the map. I found myself hoping and praying that Minnesota would remain in the dark, and we would remain a people unreached by the swine flu. Then my Christian worldview began to kick in and give me a different perspective on this pandemic.
Here I was, joining the rest of the world, growing more and more concerned about the spreading swine flu and praying that I would remain an unreached people still in the dark on the map. I was quickly reminded of a far more threatening pandemic and another global map flashed into my mind. Without downplaying the severity of this horrible virus and keeping the victims and families close to heart, I still think this is another opportunity expose the true hopes, fears and concerns of people.
You see, the pandemic of sin and death has spread to every single human being on the globe. We are all infected. God has mercifully provided the world with a very costly cure by sending His only begotten son to earth to take the terminal illness of sin and death onto himself so we can be healed and have eternal life. Yet, there are an estimated 2.72 billion people unreached with the message of the gospel and still unaware of this “spiritual vaccination” provided by Christ’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. While the swine flu has claimed 266 lives so far, we know that an estimated 150, 000 people die everyday (!) around the world of other causes and pass into eternity.
While I was praying that Minnesota would remain in the dark and unreached by the swine flu, I was reminded of how little I pray for and think about all the billions of people groups who need to be reached and all the dark places on the map (see red) that so desperately need to be “lit up” by the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So here’s my prayer today:
Lord, in a world concerned primarily with physical disease and death, give me a deeper burden for those threatened with eternal, spiritual death. In a world afraid of death, remind me daily that you have overcome the grave and “to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). In a world fixated on the swine flu map, give me a burden for the map of peoples unreached with the gospel of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.