A Christian Response to Ebola

Wherever we go we are inundated about the Ebola outbreak in Africa, as well as the individual cases popping up here in America.  Political pundits are theorizing how the Ebola virus could affect politics this coming November.  I have read articles on the economic price that Ebola could cost the world.  I have even heard prognosticators talk about how travel patterns will be affected.  One area that seems to be silent is what should be the Christ-follower’s response to the Ebola threat.

Before we go any further in this writing, it is important to delineate what we know about this virus compared to what we think we know.  Lately, the CDC have said and done a lot of things that cause many in the public to become skeptical of their ability to handle this threat.  I can understand these feelings. 

Having noted this doubt, we can still trust the scientific information that the CDC has gathered about Ebola over the past several decades.  Here is what the CDC writes about Ebola:

Ebola is a rare severe disease, often fatal, caused by the Ebola virus. It is transmitted through direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids (e.g. saliva, urine) from infected people, dead or alive. This includes unprotected sexual contact with patients up to seven weeks after they have recovered. You can also catch the disease from direct contact with blood and other bodily fluids from wild animals, dead or alive, such as monkeys, forest antelopes and bats.

Ebola virus does not transmit through the air as influenza does. After two days and up to 21 days following exposure to the virus the disease may start suddenly with fever, muscle aches, weakness, headache and sore throat. The next stage of the disease is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, rash and malfunction of the liver and kidneys. Some patients also have profuse internal and external bleeding and multi-organ failure. There is no specific vaccine or treatment for the disease.

Even if you are living in, or have traveled to, affected areas, the risk of infection with Ebola virus is extremely low, unless you have been directly exposed to bodily fluids of a dead or living infected person or animal. Contact with bodily fluids includes unprotected sexual contact with patients up to seven weeks after they have recovered. Casual contacts in public places with people that do not appear to be sick do not transmit Ebola. You cannot contract Ebola virus by handling money, groceries or swimming in a pool. Mosquitoes do not transmit the Ebola virus. Ebola virus is easily killed by soap, bleach, sunlight, or drying. Machine washing clothes that have been contaminated with fluids will destroy Ebola virus. Ebola virus survives only a short time on surfaces that are in the sun or have dried.”

Okay, enough about the science of this virus.  If Jesus has taken possession of me to change every aspect of my life; surely He has a will and a desire for how I respond when dangers are before me and my family.  Doesn’t He?

What kind of attitude should the follower of Jesus have, how should we respond when we are reminded that this life and this world is only a temporary existence for us? 

I gotta admit, when hearing of the two nurses contracting this virus in Texas and how one of them traveled across county while having the virus, I did make a mental note of how long Dana, Dax and I could hole up in our home.  Where could we go to be alone; away from the contagion and the threats?  Do I have enough food to hoard when the panic sets in?  Do I have enough ammo and weapons to protect my stockpiles?

In essence, I wanted to flee my God given calling to impact this world.  I wanted to flee the culture God has placed me.  For a fleeting moment, I thought about “loosing my saltiness” or “placing a bowl over my light.”  (To better understand this reference read Matthew 5:13-16)  In essence, I wanted to run.  Do you know what else will run away in the face of danger?  Sheep.

Usually, when one sheep starts running in a flock, a chain reaction will occur and before long the whole herd is running.  They never have a master plan-they are just running away from what they think the danger is.  They have no clue if they are getting ready to run over a cliff or into the mouth of a waiting predator.  It is a scary thing indeed; to be a sheep with other sheep out in the wild, with all the threats lurking.

One thing I am reminded of is that sheep don’t survive long in the wild, but they will thrive under the care of a good shepherd.  A good shepherd feeds the sheep; a good shepherd cares for and defends the sheep.  A good shepherd will lead the sheep into safe pastures.  And I know that the sheep knows the voice and the presence of the shepherd. 

Right now if you find yourself overcome with fear, doubt and uncertainty maybe you should spend some time today praying and meditating on John 10.  Ask God to reveal the truths contained in this passage that can impact your day and your culture.  And then share those truths with some family and friends around you.

I am not calling for every Christian to board a plane and prepare to surrender their lives by serving the victims of Ebola in Liberia.  I am saying that we need to listen to the voice of our Good Shepherd and take heed to what He is saying to us in the midst of the other many voices.  Let’s pay attention to His voice.  Let’s pray attention to His voice.

I am saying that as Christ followers, we are salt in this world.  That means we are a preservative to our culture in the midst of the death and decay.  So yes we should marshal our resources to address the suffering and hopelessness that many are experiencing in third world countries.  We need to prepare to answer that same hopelessness here in our country if and when more American’s contract this disease.

As we finish this short writing, stop the fear and worry; take time to rest beside your good shepherd.  Ask Jesus how He wishes you to be salt in this world.  Then obey the voice of our Good Shepherd.

-Pastor Tony