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Deacon Bill Stimpson
The Great Pandemic
This is not about COVID-19, or even the Monkey Pox. This is about a far more dangerous infection that has contaminated the human heart around the world. No country, no population is safe from this infection; it is life threatening! Unfortunately, there is no micro-organism attributed to this infection. Vaccines and antibiotics fight against micro-organisms. If there is no identifiable micro-organism, how can science ever develop a cure, a remedy to make people whole? Science cannot!! Science cannot identify the infection because it lies outside the bounds of science. Science can only show its effect. The infection goes by a lot of names, but they all boil down to the same disease – Entitlement.
This infection manifests itself in two distinctive ideologies: individualism and self-righteousness. It is not fair to try and go back to any one era, or any one person and point to the origin of individualism, it runs deep in the human psyche. At the core of the original sin lies the foundational – I want to make my own decisions; life is all about me! The Hebrew Scriptures tell one story after another of this king or another seeing their reign as a point of privilege rather than responsibility. I suspect that it is not just myself who can look back (or even forward) at times when I was selfish, self-centered, and it’s all about me! Infants rightfully live in a self-centered world of being fed; kept dry, clean, and cuddled. Ideally, as we grow older, we need to break down the walls of isolation and join the world as a fully functioning and contributing member of society.
To our great misfortune, there are far too many men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers all too eager to abandon their social and parental responsibilities in pursuit of some short-lived personal pleasure. In the 1950’s, child psychologist Dr. Benjamine Spock advocated for allowing children to discover their own strengths and weaknesses; their own abilities through uninhibited trial and error. He encouraged parents to get out themselves and explore their own interests. There is some great wisdom, to a point, in Dr. Spock’s recommendations. BUT only to a point! There are important lessons in life that we all need to learn – sometimes even the hard way; through trial and error – so that we recognize the importance of the lesson. But to accept the above as an allowable norm as a social model of the modern family; has grave consequences.
An exaggerated sense of self-importance often leads to an attitude of self-righteousness. I often hear, even from my own children – “I don’t need someone, or some church to tell me what to do or not to do! I’m a good person and know the difference between right and wrong!” And, to a point this is very true. But it should be pointed out that there is difference between being dictated to, and becoming informed, and reformed. When we absent ourselves from church, we begin to irresponsibly rely on our own ideas of right and wrong. We are good people because that is how we were created. We do not always act like good people. If our standard of “goodness” is determined by our own ideas, our own wants, our own criteria, we become self-righteous. We set ourselves above and beyond the need to change.
When life becomes centered around the individual, when truth and goodness are defined by an individual’s exaggerated sense of righteousness; then the disease of Entitlement permeates the heart, and the soul of the individual. When the disease of entitlement dominates the soul, mercy is lost. The old song – What The World Needs Now Is Love, Sweet Love – is inaccurate. What the world needs now is to climb off the pedestal of entitlement and strive for mercy.