Ah, spring is in full swing. Flowers are in bloom, the trees have leaves, lawns are in full growth and, the dreaded mosquito is on the scene. Even as I thought about this last week, Joy and I were listening to an audio book while on our route to and from California. The book, A Rule Against Murder: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny . It is a well done murder mystery set in Canada, at a large log built resort building in the woods by a lake with no internet. What does that have to do with mosquitoes? Well, everything. With the wonderful setting also comes mosquitoes and other bugs and critters as well as limited contact with the outside world. The main character, Chief Inspector Gamache, loves this place as being the closest thing to heaven on earth. One of his inspectors sees the place as the closest thing to hell. He is tormented my mosquitoes and is bewildered that his boss doesn’t seem to notice them. The author makes the point that two people in the same setting may see completely different things and will be happy or tormented depending on their focus. There is a lot of truth there. Mosquitoes are bothersome but for many of us the enjoyment of the rest of God’s creation trumps the inconvenience. We can also take some steps to protect ourselves from the seemingly relentless attacks.
In some parts of the world, mosquitoes can be deadly. The 2004 Time Magazine article Death By Mosquito demonstrates the potential death threat in certain conditions and parts of the world.
As current trends make clear, AIDS is surpassing the Black Death as the most devastating plague ever to afflict the human race. That helps explain the sense of desperation that permeated the 15th International Conference on HIV and AIDS in Bangkok last week. But in a cruel irony, all the well-deserved attention paid to AIDS over the past few years has overshadowed the rapid comeback of a second, nearly-as-deadly plague – malaria. The latest figures suggest that malaria sickened 300 million people last year and killed 3 million – most of them under age 5. (AIDS last year killed just over 3 million people.) What makes the malaria deaths particularly tragic is that malaria, unlike AIDS, can be cured.
Even though mosquitoes can bring death that doesn’t have to be the outcome.
In a recent incident a Teenager’s death highlights mosquito menace. With things that make life enjoyable also come elements which are inconvenient and can become deadly given the right conditions.
In a nation which has protected freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of expression, Christians have had relative peace and comfort. For a long time, even though we aren’t, strictly speaking, a Christian nation, the culture held to Judeo/Christian ethics and behavior. Competing views were in the minority and were regarded as the inconvenient elements of these freedoms. A Neo-Nazi group wanted to march in the predominantly Jewish community of Skokie, IL and even though it was in incredibly poor taste, they were allowed to carry out their march. Gays have been lobbying for more than 3 decades to be recognized as a protected minority based on the mechanics of how they have sex. Wiccans have managed to be recognized as a religion with chaplains in the military. The State of Illinois has now legalized same sex “Civil Unions.” Not marriage but very close. Some of these changes have been helped along by individuals such as Brian McLaren who is highly regarded and endorsed by Christianity Today, Willow Creek Community Church and others. Brian McLaren and other emerging church leaders claim we need to wait for 5 years for the Holy Spirit to tell us what is true about homosexuality. The inconvenient has become deadly. While all of this change has been taking place the move to eliminate or at least silence Christian thought in the public square has been rather vigorous. Lawsuits to ban prayer, prevent the public display of a cross and other Christian themes and symbols in public areas have been fairly successful. Even so, free speech, even that of Evangelical Christians, is still affirmed. But we are finding ourselves in a progressively pagan culture which is strongly opposed to what we believe.
Many Christians are uncomfortable and in some cases angry with the cultural changes. I can understand that but in some ways perhaps it is good. After all, our culture acted on Judeo/Christian values for a long time without being Christian. We were well behaved lost sinners. As Christianity is being abandoned there is no need for pretense. It seems to me that the task of the church has changed from what it was even 50 years ago.
I think we are on solid ground if we expect unredeemed sinners to behave like unredeemed sinners. Sin, like mosquitoes, can lead to death but it doesn’t have to be the case. If we have the cure, the gospel, and we take it outside the walls of the church to those who need to hear it, they can be delivered from certain death. That means what happens in church should be more directed at equipping and preparing God’s people with the tools and experience to meet those who need the hear gospel where they live.