Fear has gripped America. Take, for example, the extreme measures being used to slow the spread of COVID-19.
- There is the fear of hospitals being overwhelmed by too many cases.
- There is the fear of economic instability for the country, states, and individual households.
- There is the fear of government overreach and the loss of personal liberties.
- There is the fear of the unknown (How long will this last? Will we ever go back to normal?)
Behind all of these fears, though, is one that drives all of the steps being taken to avoid coronavirus infections: the fear of death. And this fear may actually be good for Americans.
Why would the fear of death be good for Americans?
- It reminds us of our greatest limitation: death. Technology may extend our lives, but it cannot prevent its ending. All people will face death and Americans are being confronted with that reality every day of quarantine.
- It highlights our uncertainty about a great number of things, including life after death. Science and technology can only address this physical world and times of crisis and fear tend to force people to consciously recognize that fact.
- It drives people to reevaluate their priorities and life choices. When so much of what we have had and enjoyed is stripped away from us, we tend to cling to what is substantively important. This will lead many to consider alternatives to their worldviews when what they previously believed does not pan out like they had hoped.
As Christians in a 21st-century, post-Christian culture, a blow to society’s sense of invulnerability (like this current pandemic) will certainly open an opportunity to share the good news of the One Who “[destroyed] him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Americans’ greatest need is the Gospel, and this crisis will underscore the inability and the uncertainty all people actually have but hardly entertain.
Whatever lessons we take away from this current crisis, may the first be a recommitment to the Gospel and the spreading of it wherever we go. All things being equal, the lost of America will be prepared to hear it: will we be prepared to share it?