Day 50, May 2, 2020
One of the troubling things about the spread of the Coronavirus is that there are asymptomatic carriers. Asymptomatic is a word I was not familiar with before the Coronavirus. A symptomatic carrier of the virus has the symptoms, or some of the symptoms, such as a cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or even loss of smell. An asymptomatic carrier would have the virus, but not display any of the symptoms. Asymptomatic is an interesting word when it comes to a disease, when it comes to a virus. People can be carrying the virus, but no one knows they are carrying the virus. They have none of the symptoms.
Could a word like asymptomatic have any correlation to the Christian faith? The Apostle Paul writes in II Corinthians 4 that followers of Jesus carry within them a treasure. The treasure is our faith in Jesus Christ, and all the hope and blessing and promise and power that come with having faith in Jesus Christ. Interestingly enough we carry that treasure in our very real and human bodies, bodies that are frail and fragile. We are so frail and so fragile Paul makes the analogy that our bodies are like clay jars. They are easily broken. The treasure is not our physical bodies. The treasure is the vital and lifegiving faith that we carry within us, the faith that comes from Jesus that we carry within us. That is the treasure. That is the treasure we carry.
What might be the symptoms that we carry that treasure? Would we display the symptom of standing on a street corner and blowing a loud trumpet every time we gave help to ones who are need? Would we stand up in front of a big crowd and say a loud and long prayer? Would we disfigure our faces to show people what great suffering and sacrifice we endure as we do some act of penitence like fasting? Would those be the symptoms of the treasure of Christ we carry within us? Jesus gives a thumbs down to those symptoms. Jesus gives a big thumbs down to those symptoms in Matthew chapter 6. Jesus calls those symptoms displays of “self-righteousness.” Those do not seem to be the symptoms a faithful follower of Jesus would display.
If those displays of self-righteousness are not the symptoms, what might be the symptoms? One big huge symptom, at least according to Jesus, would be love. “By this will people everywhere know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Every child of Christian folk music is familiar with that symptom, captured so well in the words, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Jesus said those words about love in John 13:35. His words were not fluffy, warm-fuzzy words about love. John 13 begins with Jesus taking off his outer clothes, wrapping a towel around his waist, and washing the feet of his disciples. John 13 begins with Jesus doing the work of a servant. John 13 leads to John 15 where Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down their life for the friends.” Jesus was not an asymptomatic carrier. His life displayed the symptoms of love, whether by touching an unclean leper, wiping a tear from a repentant sinner, wrapping a towel around his waist, or climbing up on a cross and giving his life. The symptoms were all there.
I guess it is possible you can be an asymptomatic carrier of the Christian faith. I guess it is possible that your life would not show any hints of love, kindness, compassion, or concern, and yet you could be still be carrying faith within you. I guess it is possible, but it sure does not represent the carriers of the Christian faith that I have met. By and large, overwhelmingly, thankfully, and joyfully, the Christians I know are symptomatic. Absolutely, positively, and most definitely, the Christians I know are symptomatic. You can just tell by their actions, by their values, by their desire to serve, to help, to bind the wounds, to feed the hungry, to visit the sick, to clothe the naked, and to seek the kingdom of justice and righteousness that honors our great God and King, you can just tell these salt of the earth disciples are carrying the treasure of Jesus Christ within them.
The followers of Christ I know are symptomatic. The followers of Christ I know are not only symptomatic, they are contagious. In the best way possible, they are contagious. Friends, you are contagious. Please, please, please, be symptomatic in every way, shape and form. Friends, please, please, please be contagious. Spread the light and the love, the hope and the healing of Jesus Christ. Something as serious and threatening as the Coronavirus Crisis is no time to be an asymptomatic carrier of the Christian faith. Let your light shine so that all the world may see your faith and give praise to our God and Father in heaven.
With the love of Christ,