GodReflection: Power Words
I spent the day at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas doing Bone Scans.
On the way to my appointment, the morning news informed me the hospital awaited test results for what was likely the first case of Ebola found in the USA.
By late afternoon upon my exit confirmation by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention blasted from all media sources.
My first response was not for the plight and well-being of the sick man in isolation. Mercy wasn’t my automatic reflex.
As I let my practical gene dominate, my initial reaction was to wonder why issuance of travel visas continue from countries harassed by the disease.
To my shame, I didn’t feel much of the “love your neighbor as yourself,” within my soul.
The City of Dallas and Presbyterian Hospital acted superbly in getting reliable medical information to the public at once. There is no threat of contacting Ebola from this case.
However, by the following day, parents took children from school and standoffish concern targeted the sick man’s relatives.
I can’t help but think of my third century Christian brothers and sisters.
The plague and decimation of the populace that ravaged the continent during the previous century was present in their oral history. Then the impossible happened. In A.D. 252 a second plague ran rampant over the Roman world.
Pagans, priest, rulers, and physicians ran for their lives.
Followers of Jesus remained to administer mercy.
They remembered the teaching of Jesus, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” They imitated the life of their Lord who showed mercy to the sick, the diseased, the lame, and the blind.
They served a Master who touched contagious lepers. They remembered Jesus story of a Samaritan who showed mercy to a man in the ditch.
Over seventeen hundred years past and we still admire the heroic and seemingly unnatural example of Christian mercy when submitted to God’s love.
Around A.D. 260 Dionysius wrote:
“Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty; never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another.
Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains.
Many, in nursing and caring for others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead…. The best of our brothers lost their lives in this manner, a number of presbyters, deacons, and laymen winning high commendation so that death in this form, the result of great piety and strong faith, seems in every way the equal of martyrdom.”
Here is what I think.
The First and Second Testaments describe my lost state without the unmerited gift offered to me by the God of mercy.
I pray that a solution will stop the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Until them may Christ followers be courageous and allow the Holy Spirit of Jesus to propel an outpouring of mercy from within.
May Christians stand first in line to treat victims and their families with God’s mercy and love.
That would add a forgotten dimension to the plea of Jesus: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on the Power Word Mercy.