The other day I was reading the paper from the Doctor’s office on colds and flu. As far as I can make out, what they were saying was that in a world where we can cure cancer and do brain surgery, where we can put a man on the moon, and microwaveable burritos can be served in two minuets fifty seconds, in this amazing world, they still haven’t found a cure for the common cold.
Oh, there are plenty of medicines that can hide the symptoms; we can clear our heads (and get real thirsty) and suppress the cough. We can find medicine that will help us sleep at night, and more medicine that will help us stay awake in the day, allowing us to work twelve-hour days as if we weren’t sick at all; but the cold is still there, and we are probably making the illness worse by knocking off the symptoms and pretending that this also cures the illness. Of course it doesn’t.
As a disease, sin is one far more serious than Ebola, cancer or the common cold. Its consequences are eternal. Yet unlike the common cold, there is a universal serum: The gospel. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Paul suggests in the previous verse that he is a “debtor,” and that he is obligation-bound to share this gospel.
Now if you had in your possession the serum that would cure the Ebola virus, or the common cold for that matter, would you have an obligation to make its contents known? And to whom? Would you be morally and ethically bound to reserve it for the rich, for instance, or the people of America alone?
So how serious is our sin? Did we get a “booboo” or are we fatally ill? Let’s start by suggesting that we know how serious the ailment is when we see how serious the cure. We don’t take one who suffers from a cold and put him under chemotherapy, do we?
Penicillin: “Any of a group of isomeric, antibiotic compounds with the general formula C(9)H(11)N(2)O(4)SR, obtained from the filtrates of certain mold.” – Webster. In other words, generally obtainable in the average bachelor’s refrigerator!
It was in 1928 that Alexander Fleming discovered the common household mold. It has resulted in the saving of millions of lives, the alleviation of untold suffering and pain. The despised mold that forms in a Yogurt carton, thrown away with disgust has saved many lives.
There is no sense in declaring that you are “not ashamed” of something unless there is a temptation to feel ashamed of it. It seems to me that these days the wrong people are feeling ashamed. We who sin should be ashamed. But when we offer the gospel, the serum for sin, now that is something for which we should never feel ashamed.