Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

May 10, 2017

Today we have the same choice that we face every other day. We can change our lives to more closely model Jesus or we can stay the same.

            Last night I had a revelation and it caused a memory to pop up that I had long since forgotten and hoped for it to have stayed that way. It had to do with a kid I went to elementary school with who’d had polio.

            I was watching a new science show on TV hosted by Bill Nye and the subject matter was vaccinations and why we need them. Nye focused upon India and how polio had become rampant there.

            Holy smoke! Polio in the United States is so far in the rearview mirror that no one even thinks about it anymore. But, the same cannot be said for the citizens of India.

            Film clips of recent polio victims splashed across the TV scene. And, I remembered David Foster, the kid who was two grades ahead of me who had polio.

            David gave me nightmares as a child. I was absolutely terrified seeing the leg braces that he wore and the crab-like way that he walked. I mostly worried that something like this could happen to me.

            But here is the deal, because of my birth and that it occurred in a sweet spot where the polio vaccine was available, I was vaccinated and spared a life of horror. I did nothing to deserve this other than being born in the right place at the right time.

            (Incidentally, when the polio vaccine was introduced in 1955, this disease was considered to be the most terrifying public health problem in the history of our country. In 1952, 58,000 cases of polio were reported in the United States classifying this as an epidemic. When Jonas Salk developed the vaccine he gave it away for free. He felt it was his gift to humanity.)

            But in India, it’s a different story. Polio was rampant until just recently when Bill and Melinda Gates donated four hundred million dollars, that’s a four and a whole bunch of zeros ($400,000,000), enough money to vaccinate the entire country of India.

            I don’t know much about the private lives of Bill and Melinda Gates. I do not even know if they belong to a faith tradition or not. I could probably look it up but I do not have that kind of time this morning. What I do know is that I have never heard of them espousing a particular faith tradition.

            One consideration is that they have money to burn. So, no skin off their nose! But, lots of people in this country have money to burn and we do not hear of very many stories of this level of altruism.

            And, the Gates’ gesture begs tons of questions. For starters, where is the church? And, we’re the ones who are tasked with putting our foot down that the situation in India should not have happened.

            And, Christ has tasked us with the commission to model loving others so much so that we should go to extremes to help them. Christ wants us to be known for our giving: of time; of money; of our abilities and expertise.

            Christ is calling us to do nothing short of relieving the suffering of the whole world. Furthermore, as we engage in this sort of mission, that of relieving suffering in the world, we will also reap a fringe benefit. We can change the world’s reputation of Christ’s bride, creating more followers and the face of the world will be transformed.

            It may sound crazy to take on the burden of relieving the world’s suffering but can you think of a better mission for your life? Can you imagine devoting your life to a greater vision?

            Today we have the same choice that we face every other day. We can change our lives to more closely model Jesus or we can stay the same.



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