The Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Poor 

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Here's a Great thoughtful response to COVID-19 by one of my colleagues in Ministry Daniel Bair @EnglewoodFamily

If you could push a button and rid the world of the Coronavirus, would you do it? What if so doing would kill one person? For the sake of discussion, let's say it is someone you don't know who will fall dead and you will never know who it was. Could you push the button? What if it was ten or a hundred who would die -- wouldn't it be better for the few to die than many others? 

On a road trip with my family last year I posed a similar question to my children. I gave them a button and told them to think of whatever they most wanted in the world, to imagine it in all its glory, and at the simple press of the button it would be theirs, but someone in the world would also drop dead because of it (I know, perhaps a bit morbid). None of them pushed the button, but that might have been because they were pretty sure it wasn't really going to work. 

I use this illustration to launch into a discussion of COVID-19 and the poor. We could spend our time considering the disproportionate effect of sickness on the materially poor (the first to feel the economic backlash from time off work and loss of a daily meal due to school closures). We could wrestle with inadequate health care in low-income communities. However, having started this with a philosophical question, I want to continue more in that vein. 

Why is COVID-19 such a big deal? Perhaps because at this point it has taken the lives of over 6500 people globally. But did you know the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates that as many as 25,000 people around the world die every day because of starvation? Did you know that according to the World Health Organization 15,000 children around the world die every day (more than half being preventable)? No, I don't think it is the death toll that has us scared. I think it is the fact that it shatters the false sense of security in which we live our daily lives. COVID-19 can strike anywhere, regardless of health, wealth, or prosperity. Disease and death can strike any of us, and that is why we fear this virus. 

Yes, we should reschedule large gatherings, distance ourselves somewhat socially, cover our coughs, and wash our hands. After all, this last one is a biblical command: "Wash your hands, you sinners!" (James 4.8). But let us not neglect the whole of that verse, "Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." Purell cannot purify our hearts. Only the blood of Jesus Christ has that cleansing power (Following the paradigm of our illustration, this is where God pushes the button, not to destroy a stranger, but to bring about the death of his only Son that we may be saved and brought into fellowship with him.). But I think James would further assert that the expression of this in loving our neighbor is the evidence that our hearts have been purified and the natural outworking of cleansed hearts. After all, he says, "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well" (James 2.8). And this he says in the context of not showing partiality. 

Moreover, the warnings to us who are wealthy in James are clear ("Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days" James 5.1-3). Let us love our neighbors by washing our hands; but let us not neglect to love the poor of this world who face the reality of disease, death, privation, and abandonment every day. The fear we feel in the face of COVID-19 is the daily reality for many in our world; may we be as zealous for restoring them as we are for ending this virus.

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