How Christians Should Respond to Ebola in the United States

Probably since March this last year Ebola has been a topic of conversation in my family. Never did I expect or think that my mom would contract the disease, be airlifted to Emory University Hospital or undergo the ordeal she did. We are exceedingly thankful for God’s mercy and kindness towards us in all the ways he provided to secure mom’s recovery and health. In recent days we’ve heard and seen more news of other American contracting the virus and even here in the United States. Unfortunately there is a high degree of panic about this virus, even among Christians. But this isn’t the way it should be, especially for those of us who follow and trust Christ. For Christian’s this “panic” about Ebola isn’t warranted. Let me explain:

Christ is Sovereign Over Viruses

Let’s start with thelogically understanding who our God is. He is the ruler over all things. As Paul states it, “things visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:16). Our theology must start with Christ and with Christ as King over all, including microscopic biology and viruses. Jesus is king over Ebola. This epidemic and global outbreak does not take him by surprise or warrent fear or trembling from the Godhead. Christ is king over Ebola. Additionally this does not mean that God is some evil, malificent diety. Ebola is a product of the fall. It is a product of a broken and sin-filled world. Christ is still king over it, and he will bring justice and righteousness.

Christ Does All Things for Our Good and His Glory

This was the reality that anchored me during the entire ordeal of my mom’s illness, dad’s quarantine, and the uncertainty of the entire situation. I hear much fear from Christians who are afraid that they will get it themselves. I didn’t want my mom to get it, and yet it happened. Why? Romans 8:28 reminds us that, “For those who love God all things work togehter for good.” Mom contracting this illness, as difficult as it was, was for her ultimate good and for God’s ultimate glory. Some might say that God will never give your more than you can handle. That’s not accurate. God will never give you more than He can handle, and he will supply everything you need to stand and endure the trials he gives you to walk through (Romans 8:32). Suffering is an essential part of the Chrisian life, and how we walk with Christ in that suffering shows our faith and trust in him. As dad and I spoke over the phone when mom was sick in Liberia, “God has chosen to give us this trial, and by his grace we will come through it well.” The point I’m trying to make is that, as a Christian, you will only recieve from God’s hand what is for your ultimate good and for his great glory.

Faith Does Not Preclude Us From Understanding

Christianity isn’t an irrational, unscientific, blind following. Faith always seeks understanding. This means it is important to be well educated about the scientific and medical means by which Ebola is transmitted. As I talked with an EMT friend here in my city a few weeks ago, it would be wise for him (and us as well) to understand how Ebola is transmitted (contact with an infected, symptomatic person’s bodily fuilds). It’s important to understand how you can and cannot get Ebola. Drop the conspiracy theories, government bashing, and the irrational goofiness of zombie films. It’s wise to study the science of how the virus, how it spreads, and what you can do to be proteted from contracting it. Trust Christ and understand the world that he has made well.

Compassion Must Preceed Fear

Ebola is a horrific disease. It strips people of their humanity and dignity as persons. It kills. And yet people, humans, made in the image of God are dying of this virus all over the world. The poorest of the poor are without help and hope in Western Africa. Ebola isn’t a nameless, faceless disease. It infects real people. People that are loved and cared for. As Christians we should be known for our compassion, gentleness and love first and foremost. We should be like firefighters who run into danger to save people. The world needs our love, even if it costs us much. They need to hear and see us put our faith into action and say, even if I contract this disease and die, I will love and serve. This is how Christ served. He came into our sin-filled lives, made contact with us, and provided the remedy and cure for our sin, even though he died an even more horrific death than Ebola gives. This gospel message motivates and shows us how we might love and serve others in Christ’s name.

Christians, lets us care for and have compassion for those who are suffering. Let’s not raise panic or live fearful lives from something we cannot control. Let us look to Christ, understand this world, and roll up our sleeves to love and serve the suffering and sick.