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Spreading Salvation

Perhaps you’re looking forward to this year’s commencement of the iconic summer games taking place in Rio de Janeiro in early August—or will they?

One hundred and fifty doctors, public health scientists, and bioethicists together sent a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) in May calling for the Summer Olympics to be moved to a new venue or rescheduled due to infectious concerns.

The Zika virus has spread to more than 58 countries, mostly in Central and South America, where the mosquitoes continue to transmit the disease. The U.S. Center for Disease Control called upon travelers to limit or delay their travel to areas where the virus is active. Rio is one of those places. Is it worth the risk of carrying the epidemic to every nation in the world who places an athlete in the Olympics this year or will the epidemic subside by then, slowed by the start of the South American winter (June through September) and the end of mosquito season?

It appears those are the only two questions left as the International  Olympic Committee (IOC) has determined to continue plans for the summer Olympic commencement in Rio on Friday, August 5; and the World Health  Organization is not inclined to stand in their way.

If you were an athlete would you go? If you had a child who was an athlete, would you send him or her? Would you risk infection?

John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only Son.”  I wonder if Heaven’s Health Organization (HHO), that league of angels that makes sure God’s dwelling is not infiltrated by disease, sent internal memos around paradise asking for the commencement of God’s salvation plan to be postponed. It had been planned for ages, since before the ages began   (1 Peter 1:20), but when the fullness  of time had come (Galatians 4:4), Jesus was ready to come. Yet the world was rife with sin.

You can’t blame mosquitoes for this one. Romans 5:12 says it started with one man but through that one man, “death spread to all because all sinned.” Do you imagine there were any heavenly hosts fearing the infection might just spread to them? Particularly knowing that Jesus  didn’t intend to avoid the disease when he came but rather, to listen to God’s plan, “He made him to be sin, who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He came with the intention of being infected with our sin and, with it, our death.

Of course the Celestial Salvation Committee (CSC) made no attempts to stop the Father’s plans to send his Son because they knew no Zika, no sin—no, not even death itself—would be able to stop the outbreak of God’s salvation once it started. That verse in 2 Corinthians 5:21 continued, “He made him to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

When we see the news, listen to threats of viral epidemics, hear about mass shootings, or just cringe at the latest rhetoric from this year’s presidential hopefuls, we might be tempted to think “this world is infected and the sin epidemic is just getting worse!” However, let us be reminded:  1. We know the cure—his name is Jesus. 2. God’s already begun to infect this world with his salvation. 3. The spread of his salvation doesn’t need to be mosquito-borne or airborne but simply love-borne. It spreads in every friendship, acquaintance, or relational contact in which a  loving gesture is expressed and the word of Jesus is shared.

So as the games commence this year under the 2,300-foot-high statue of “Christ the Redeemer” that towers over the city of Rio with arms spread wide, challenge yourself to a little game:  how many people can I lovingly infect with salvation before the Olympic flame goes out this year? 

Pastor Mike


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