We’re going through a tremendous ordeal together right now. Shutdowns to flatten the curve, social distancing, sanitizing, masks… it all seems surreal. In many ways, I’m proud of us as a nation. I hear the steady stream of negativity coming from various voices, but allow me to let you in on a little secret I’ve learned for my own mental health. I ask myself, “How’s life around me?” People are generally complying with the orders. I see people being extra gracious with one another. Probably the biggest sign of positivity I’ve seen is that Ohio didn’t have a complete meltdown when told the Bucks weren’t going to play football this fall. Great job everyone!
Times like these provoke my thinking, so allow me to be provocative for a moment. These days have been quite difficult for me for one major reason: I don’t know who is telling me the truth! If you’re reading this article, you are likely already to be a person who stays informed, so I don’t need to provide an exhaustive list of all the issues, but here’s a sampling: Are masks effective against the coronavirus, or are they hazardous to your health? What’s the deal with hydroxychloroquine? When should a state enact a mask mandate? When should a state remove restrictions? Are our freedoms being stripped away? What is the right balance of saving lives and saving our economy (which will also save lives)?
These are complex questions for sure, but here’s the thing, if you ask 10 people, you will likely get 10 different answers on any one of them. Some people only consider the facts. Some may mix in a bit of opinion, philosophy, or (dare I say it) politics.
So, let’s think on this for a moment. People often accuse others of “not following the science.” Is science always our benchmark for what is true? It’s a legitimate question. Science is a tremendous tool, and I have no doubt that, over time, the scientific method will be what will unlock the secrets of the coronavirus. But to think that science is our primary guide for life is an oversimplification. How do we quantify love, art, music or beauty scientifically? We may try, but those efforts fall short.
Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, …“It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” The context of this verse is important. Jesus had been fasting for many days and was weak with hunger. You could argue that he was in danger of starvation. Satan asked Jesus to command the stones to become bread so he could feed himself and save himself. Jesus’ response to Satan is something we need to learn from, and now is a good time to learn it. Life is about more than just preserving it, and the “more” is not quantifiable through science. This may partly explain why I left the scientific world back in 1995 to pursue the study of “every world that comes from the mouth of God” (i.e. the Bible), and how to minister those words to people.
Here’s what I’ve discovered: real life is loving the God who gave us breath then using the life He gave us to love and serve others. It involves risk. It’s often scary. It’s definitely not safe. You might recall that Jesus’ ministry involved loving, healing and teaching. People killed him for it. In giving His life, He changed the world.
Following Jesus provides the restoration of the relationship with God through the forgiveness of our sins, a compass for and stability in life that the scientific method cannot offer (and makes no attempt to). Having these perspectives have allowed me to love others well without fear for my life. What about you? Where do you locate truth?
Rev. Scott Tiede is senior pastor of Delaware Bible Church.