Numbers? Or People?

Friends, I am (and have been) deeply concerned that people are choosing to follow numbers during this pandemic and literally dehumanizing people. A co-author recently shared a book with me where she said that the reason people can hurt one another is that they first dehumanize the other party. Sadly, even people I care about – fellow Christians and brothers and sisters in Christ – are joining in this dehumanization of others.

Need an example? Someone I went to church with as a kid recently posted on Facebook, “It’s not rocket science people. You’ve either had COVID or you’ll get COVID. You’ll either die or be like the 99.5% and recover. It’s not going anywhere. Your government cannot keep you safe from a virus. But they can take your liberty…” It made my stomach turn. Literally. Since when are people expendable? Even if the number of people who die are .5% (which I’m not going to argue this number because this post isn’t about “numbers”), why are we treating people as if they aren’t important? I hear that people who are dying are mostly old or have pre-existing conditions. So what? Do we not care about people if they are elderly or have a medical condition? My mother-in-law has cancer; she didn’t ask for it, she didn’t want it, and she’s taking chemo to try and live longer… does that mean she’s expendable? I certainly don’t think so! Both my parents and my in-laws are over age 60. Does being older make them expendable? No! One of my son’s best friends has Type 1 diabetes. He’s eaten right and lived a healthy life and received a genetic disease… is he expendable? I say NO! My own son was born with a mass on his lung. We were told it was nothing we did nor could we have prevented it. Health experts don’t think it’s genetic, and we were told it was an anomaly. At one month old, he had surgery to remove the lower left lobe of his lung to both remove the mass and decrease his risk for getting cancer later in life. Thereafter, he struggled with asthma for years – we were in and out of the hospital. Does that mean he’s expendable now? Doctors didn’t seem to think so, as they operated on him and gave him breathing treatments to save him. And I personally would literally die for him. I don’t think he’s expendable. And it makes me really angry when others say ‘well, if they had pre-existing conditions or were old, that’s their problem. Why should I have to change my life or wear a mask or be inconvenienced when schools are closed?”

Do you know who else felt similarly? Hitler. Let that sink in. Hitler was trying to create the perfect race, and literally killed those who were disabled, old, of different nationalities or Jewish. It wasn’t just about religion for him, and it’s scary to me how many folks sound like him, or are at least spewing the same type of logic.

So, instead of feeding on social media or national news, let’s turn to the Word of God. Because the Bible is clear on this issue, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:

Unity and Diversity in the Body

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

2The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Friends, there is enough fighting on the Internet and in the political arena right now. I’m not saying this to be divisive but rather to bring hopefully a unifying thought to fellow believers. I don’t care whether you are a democrat or republican, if you’re old or if you’re young. I’m writing this as a call to action – stop talking about .5% or “just 28 kids have died” or any other numbers. Think of people as people. Think about how differently you might feel if you had an underlying condition or if one of your loved ones did. Maybe you didn’t have a great relationship with your grandparents, but most folks wouldn’t want their grandparents to die any sooner than they have to. And they certainly don’t want them to suffer! If you are inconvenienced to help others survive, think about the fact that Jesus literally was tortured and died for them… and for you. Don’t give into the lie that these numbers don’t matter. Each one is a person. A person that God created. A person with hopes and dreams and feelings. Think about who you want to emulate – Jesus or Hitler.

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