The virus is real. It’s not a hoax. We’re not dreaming. It’s covering the earth. We are living in unprecedented times. It’s a pandemic, and everybody has been called to share the message with everybody of how to save lives.
What is a virus anyway? It’s an infective agent that is able to multiply and spread, usually having a destructive effect wherever it goes. Ebola. Rabies. Influenza. And of course, COVID-19. It’s no joke.
According to Jesus Christ, something comparable to a virus was unleashed on humanity when our first parents separated from God. Call this whatever you want – treachery, darkness, rebellion, sin – this contagion is as deadly as it ubiquitous. Humans without God are like a fish out of water or a plant without sunlight or a mammal without oxygen. We simply don’t thrive apart from God. This has spread from one little garden to every corner of the globe, and the effects are beyond devastating. We need everybody sharing the message with everybody to save lives.
With COVID-19 we’ve been told to heed the Stay-Home order, cancel travel and wash our hands because there is no cure. Good advice. But Jesus claimed that by 6PM on Good Friday something fundamentally changed for the human race. He called it good news. The antidote has been provided. The virus has been solved.
It is finished.
Could you imagine the reaction from hospitals and stock markets and small businesses and professional sports if tomorrow a scientist discovered a vaccine to end this pandemic? That would be good news. And that news would spread (dare we say it?) like a virus to anybody and everybody willing to listen.
Which begs the question. Do you actually believe that what Jesus calls good news is in fact good news? Because I notice a substantial disparity between the Christian claims about this news and their actual sharing of it. People don’t stay quiet about good news.
Parenthetically, perhaps you’re reading this, and you have always been on the outside looking in on all things Christian. I readily acknowledge the long list of hypocrisies, injustices, and failures of so much of the Christian religious bubble. As a Christian, I validate your potential suspicion or cynicism against whatever organized religious complex has you on edge. But please don’t judge the car by the car salesman. And please don’t throw out the message because of the failures of the messengers. God knows how far short I fall. But that doesn’t change the legitimacy of these three words Jesus uttered on a bloody cross: It is finished.
Back to my point.
Like a neighbor watching a house being broken into and doing nothing; like a teenager watching a bully pick on a weaker kid and staying silent; like a city that does nothing to respond to the hunger of children in the inner city; like a doctor who walks by a bleeding man on the side of the road; like a hospital with open beds who turns away a boy wheezing with asthma; like partiers on the beach who disregard the urgent call to stay home during a pandemic – is the Christian who ignores the call to spread the good news of It is finished.
To be sure, our approach is holistic. We must meet physical needs (fight slavery, feed the hungry, dig wells, mentor at-risk students). We need to address and respond to emotional needs (train, counsel, comfort, encourage). But at the bottom of all poverty and abuse and greed and injustice is a disease that is only cured by the good news itself. Don’t withhold the news.
People don’t need me. There are far greater leaders and preachers all over the place. People don’t need our church. There are much better churches all across our city. But people do need the good news. People need It is finished.
If you have experienced this antidote for yourself, it’s time to go public. Share it. Invite somebody (everybody) to “church” online. Host a watch party. Invite a friend. Tell your story. It’s never been easier to invite somebody to hear the message. Nobody has anywhere else to go! It won’t be perfect. It might not be cool. But the power was never in the location of the message, it was always in the content of the message.
If you consider yourself an outsider to the Christian experience, I’m inviting you to go online this weekend. Why are we having Easter services online instead of in person? Because we want to care for our neighbors and keep people from harm’s way. You don’t have to get dressed up. You don’t have to give any money. You don’t have to join anything. Just give it the same open mind you’d give National Public Radio or the History Channel. And if by chance a friend invited you to check out their church, I’ll let you in on something. Your friends don’t think Christians are right and everybody else is wrong; they just care about you and whatever part of their experience is legitimate, they want to share. Friends share good news.
Because it really is finished. And that is the message we proclaim this weekend. Don’t let the Lysol-wiped Easter eggs fool you; the cure to this sick world is in a bloody cross and an empty tomb. See you Sunday.