Daily Reflection 3/20/2020
Everyone I trust keeps saying these are unprecedented days. They’re right. We’ve never seen anything like this, and we’re building the plane while we’re already in the air. But there is one significant way in which we HAVE seen something like this before.
According to sociologist Rodney Stark, one of the reasons behind the quick and steady growth of early Christianity was the way the early church responded to plagues. While everyone else treated the plague like…the plague, by running away from it, the early Christians provided care for those infected. They nursed people back to health, and when people died, the Christians provided burial for them. To be sure many Christians became infected because of these actions and many died themselves. You might think this activity would diminish the numbers of the early church, but it actually increased them. This health care prolonged the lives of people who were part of the movement, and this radical love moved people who saw it and they joined the community. This nursing- along with the church’s care for strangers, travelers, and the poor- contributed to the rise of early Christianity.
Caring for the sick has long been a part of the Christian tradition. There is a reason that some of the leading health providing systems in Little Rock go the names Baptist and St. Vincent. However, with health care provision being done best by the hands of professionals in our day, the mode of health care has changed for the church. No one comes to the church to receive their treatments today, and all of us on staff at 2BC concur that they should not, in fact, do so.
However, while the mode of the church’s care and concern has changed, the motivation has not. Just as the early Christians leaned into the sick and vulnerable because there was no one else there to care for them, so we are currently staying away from each other to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to vulnerable people. The actions are opposite, but the motivation is precisely the same- love, care, and concern for people who are vulnerable.
I know these are scary, unprecedented, and confusing days. Who knows where we will find ourselves in a few weeks or months? But the fetal position is not a gospel posture. This is a time for us to be bold in our love, service, and care. This is a time for us to lean on the wisdom of the doctors and nurses who are trained to provide care to those are are sick. This is a time for us to lean in towards each other- at a 10 ft. distance to be sure – and love as we have been loved.
After all, this way wasn’t created by the early church as a pragmatic way to “get people.” This way was begun by Jesus, who touched lepers, healed the sick, and was even known to raise the dead. May those same rumors be true of us today.