Dear church,

Our family was reading the news and came across a story about a celebrity who had decided how the COVID-19 vaccines should be distributed.

Among those last in line for vaccination, the celebrity declared on social media, should be Republicans, those who don’t believe “science,” and those who don’t wear masks. This famous person had figured out who deserved to be helped and those who do not deserve help. Basically, those whom the celebrity disagreed with were not worthy of assistance.

One of our family had to ask, “How can a person think that way?”

I suppose for some in the world, this is a perfectly logical way to think. We can learn to hate some people because they oppose what we think is right. We can learn to despise them and wish that they would suffer, that they would feel pain and loss. We want them to feel rejected – not just by ourselves but by the entire culture. It is what they deserve.

This is dark thinking. And this is not how God designed humans to live. This is the image of God perverted. 

“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” 

In this, we are different from every other animal – according to Scripture. We have been infused with the “breath of life.”

The breath of the one who IS life itself has breathed into us. It has turned us from dust into something more. We are living creatures animated by God himself. And this puts into us a longing for the things of life and for the one who gave it to us.

And we can think forward to Jesus’ own “breath” when he encountered the disciples in that locked room on that special Sunday night. “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22). 

The disciples were living creatures already, given the divine image that they had somehow marred. But now they had received again the breath of life and were filled with the presence of that Life itself. 

And this new breath wasn’t given just to an individual to live as an individual, just as the first breath wasn’t given only to Adam but also to all who came after him and who were part of his family. 

We are the people of light, and we have the new breath of life in us. And we hear the words of the world, the words of hatred and evil, and the words that talk about what a person does and does not “deserve,” and we know these things are wrong. In fact, these things are evil. 

Because we are people of light and have been infused with the breath of life, we understand there is Something Else at work in the world – and not everything is a matter of what one “deserves,” and not everything can be boiled down to my rights and your rights. 

The Holy Spirit talks to us constantly of grace. If we get what we deserve, we would get nothing at all. What we have is a gift, and the renewed image of God in the life of a believer is one that shares the gift without conditions. 

But it is so easy to forget who we are and who we are becoming. And so we must be vigilant.

Chris

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