For example, should someone exposed, but not necessarily positive, do activities like driving others around in a van?
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There isn't a cut and dry answer here, since it involves Biblical principles, various human policies of government, how/where/who was exposed or other factors mitigating spread, the downsides of isolation, etc. So what we need to use is wisdom, on a case by case basis, with the aid of the Holy Spirit. First, we need to recognize that this world is broken. There will always be sickness with us until things are made new. But comparatively, the 'challenges' we face in the modern world are a drop in the bucket to the dilemmas people in the past faced. For example, in the era of Jesus, half of people didn't make it to 20yrs old. 50 was "old age." So when we confront a modern disease that essentially compresses the general risk of death one would face in a year into a few weeks if you catch it, we need to keep that in perspective. This virus only seems serious because in comparison medical advances have decreased the impact of most common diseases. The second thing to focus on is what is really important in life, both spiritually and emotionally. If you could pick between a perfectly healthy, long life on Earth - but you would end up in Hell - or a suffering, short life where you were bound for heaven - which would you choose? As important as physical health is, it pales in comparison to people's final destination. And if you could choose between 6 months left to live - but you had to be alone, or one month to live spent with family and friends, which would you choose? We are condemning many of our elderly to die alone, without their family or those who could bring cheer and love to their last days. Third, the reaction to this disease is not necessarily saving lives at all. Evidence points the other way - far, far more lives will be lost due to the lockdowns and anxiety over the isolation. Another 130 million+ people are estimated to end up, or now be in, the starvation zone by lockdowns. https://www.rt.com/op-ed/486655-lockdown-disaster-developing-world-starvation/ Along with existing food shortages and crop pests, this could lead to 30,000+ people a *day* dying from hunger, and most of them children- a far worse crisis than Covid! Even in developed countries, there will likely be at least 7 times the number of people dying earlier than they would have just from the anxiety brought on by the lockdowns, extreme hysteria, and living in a world where everyone else is masked and close connection is banned. https://www.justfacts.com/news_covid-19_anxiety_lockdowns_life_destroyed_saved And attempts to isolate the elderly to 'protect' them have inadvertently led to increased deaths among the elderly that could have been avoided. Https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/nys-cuomo-criticized-highest-nursing-home-death-toll-70596950 A fourth thing to consider is our responsibility to not put our neighbor in danger. In the OT law, this was things like putting a fence around your roof so a neighbor wouldn't fall, or not going out in public if contagious, or not touching others if you had touched something unclean. But the issue of simply being in proximity to someone sick is a tougher issue. Jesus was pretty counter-cultural in that he did not shoo sick people away from near proximity. And He certainly wouldn't have had crowds following him in a disease-ridden area if He'd been preaching that anyone even exposed to a sick person should avoid others. On the contrary, Jesus asks us to actually visit the sick - which would expose us! And that this is one way we are set apart from the world. On the practical side, levels of exposure vary by proximity, were they masked, was the infected a kid (https://nypost.com/2020/04/30/no-evidence-of-kids-passing-coronavirus-to-adults-studies-show/,) etc. A last important thing to consider is local policies or rules. It might be ordered for those exposed to self-isolate for two weeks, and we should obey governing authorities when they are not commanding us to violate our faith.
Let's take a look at the biblical principles that can guide our response as Christians during this health crisis. The whole book of Proverbs gives us much practical wisdom to apply to everyday life situations. If we are still unsure what to do, we simply have to pray and ask for wisdom, and we will receive it from our Father in heaven. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Wisdom. He lives in us to help us make godly choices in difficult situations. When we talk about an issue like this health pandemic it is important we understand the various important terms that are used. For example, what does exposure mean? If we have not been self-isolating continuously since the middle of March then we have been exposed to the virus by being in contact with other people. We can limit the risk of contracting the virus from this exposure by washing our hands frequently, keeping a 6' social distance from other people, and using hand sanitizer frequently whenever we touch surfaces in public areas. If we can't keep a social distance (ie., too many people in a small space) then we should wear a mask. However, none of these measures can guarantee we won't get the virus. The situation is much different when we have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. Our risk of getting the disease is now much higher. If we become aware that we have been in close proximity with someone who has tested positive (ie., a friend or family member calls us to confirm it, or the health authority is doing contact tracing and informs us we have been exposed to someone who has the virus), then our immediate response needs to be self-isolation so we don't infect anyone else. Further, we need to get tested as soon as possible, to confirm whether we are infected and possibly have transmitted the virus to other people. Churches, their personnel and their volunteers need to be very cautious and diligent about protecting the health of everyone involved in the church. If an outbreak occurs at a church function, that will become public knowledge. People will pass judgment on the church's failure to keep the public safe and many people may stay away (ie., like a leper colony in biblical times) for a very long time. As Christians, we are all witnesses for Jesus Christ. Our attitudes, words and actions will speak volumes during a health crisis like this. We can be a beacon of light to encourage those who are anxious and afraid. We can help those who are isolated with encouraging messages of hope. Or we can come across as arrogant, know-it-all people who won't listen to the directives of health authorities. We can act like rebels who won't let anyone infringe on our freedoms to do as we please. I believe the biggest danger we face is the temptation to allow pride, judgmental and selfish responses to sideline our ability to be ministers of the gospel. It is God's will for his church to deliver aid, hope, and good news, to people who are suffering through this health crisis. Churches need to be serving those who are most vulnerable and can't help themselves. We need to be asking ourselves what is "just" and "right" because this is the foundation of the kingdom of God. We need to be asking how to demonstrate "love" and "faithfulness" because this is the kingdom of God on the move in our world. Let's lay aside our judgmental attitudes, know-it-all arrogance and puffed up libertarian pride, which are so prevalent in the culture of our society, and let's sacrificially love the people who are most in need. And let's ask and expect God to do his part. Pray for wisdom, courage and compassion for all governmental and health leaders. Pray for protection for ourselves, our church families and those most vulnerable in our communities. Pray for godspeed in the production of a vaccine that will end this pandemic. Pray we will be beacons of light in a very dark time in our world, that will draw people to Jesus Christ and give great glory to God.
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