Caring for Others in a Crisis

Coronavirus-stricken Italy and Spain gave us one of the few positive news items of the past week. According to the BBC, “Residents in Spain and Italy have shown their gratitude to health personnel on the coronavirus frontline by applauding from their windows”.

Mateusz Plinta V8 Ddvglwok Unsplash

Video recordings on the BBC website showed crowds clapping and cheering from balconies and windows. This was a coordinated attempt to pay sincere tribute to dedicated and exhausted medical staff. Slogging for long hours, missing meals and sleep, dealing with immense pressures and volatile patients, medics are placing themselves at risk to help the sick and suffering. They are in the front line of the battle with Coronavirus. Every sacrifice they make should be appreciated and applauded. The least we can say is “Thank-you”.

Historically, and in almost every culture, people have rightly admired those who selflessly acted for the good of others in a crisis. However, not every worldview gives sufficient reason why such actions are admired. Consider the implications of Darwinism. If the survival of the fittest has caused the human race to reach where it is today, why should anyone care about the sick and weak? An important question, and one not easily answered.

Selfless concern for others does, however, align perfectly with one of the most foundational truths of Christianity: human beings are made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1.26-27). Being the creations of a personal God, we have personality, which involves the ability to love, and to express that love self-sacrificially. In fact, we are acting most in accord with God’s original intention for man when we selflessly care for others.

God has shown us how this is done at a much higher level. The ultimate ‘virus’, one that is truly pandemic, is sin. The refusal of the first human being to follow the Creator’s rules for human flourishing introduced sin and death into the world. Since then humanity has suffered. Death has “spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5.12). The attitude of the first man to the Creator’s rules has become our attitude, and the result of our personal sin is not simply physical death, but eternal punishment.

"The ultimate ‘virus’, one that is truly pandemic, is sin."

Thankfully, God did not remain distant and aloof from human suffering. He self-sacrificially entered His creation for the good of His creatures. The Lord, “being in the form of God … made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2.6-8). He came to where we were, and He came to do us good.

One reason I have great respect for the medics dealing with Coronavirus is their willingness to risk their own health for the good of the patient. Care is taken to minimise that risk but the possibility of infection, and even death, still remains. Again, the least we can say is “Thank-you”.

The entrance of the Lord Jesus Christ into this world was not to risk His life, nor was it to lose His life. He did not leave a place of comparative safety to place Himself at risk of dying. Rather, He left a place of perfect safety with the knowledge that He must die in order for us to be rescued.

Sin is the great enemy of humanity and Christ came to do battle with it. His love for human beings meant that He would willingly take upon Himself the consequences of sin, bear the punishment for it, and provide the remedy by His death upon the cross. He has “suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust” (1 Peter 3.18). He has “died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15.3).

"Sin is the great enemy of humanity and Christ came to do battle with it."

His purpose was our salvation. His suffering and death was the means to provide the cure we need. His willingness to travel from heaven to the cross, and to endure the intensity of divine judgment against sin, reveals his sincere love for us. On the way to the cross He endured men’s mockery and hatred. He was rejected, beaten, spat upon, scourged, misrepresented, crucified. On the cross, he “bore our sins in His own body” being “wounded for our transgressions” and “bruised for our iniquities” (1 Peter 2.24; Isaiah 53.5). Having suffered to deal with sin, He rose again to assure us of the salvation He had procured.

And what is the outcome? There is a remedy available. There is a cure provided — one that is guaranteed to bring relief from the eternal consequence of sin. This treatment is offered freely because the price has already been paid in full.

I have no doubt that the Spanish and Italian public who expressed their appreciation for the sacrificial care of medical professionals were doing the right thing. I am even more convinced that those who quietly bow their hearts in the presence of God and thank the Lord Jesus for His suffering and death, receiving from Him the remedy they need for their souls, are also doing the right thing. Those who acknowledge their problem of sin and trust Jesus Christ alone for the cure, receive immediate healing. They can announce with joy: “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53.5).

Have you read the story of the Cross,

Where Jesus bled and died;

Where your debt was paid by His precious blood

That flowed from His wounded side?

Have you read that He looked to heaven and said,

“Tis finished”? ’Twas for thee!

Have you ever said, “I thank Thee, Lord,

For giving Thy life for me?

(Thomas Dennis)