March 25, 2020 – Let the Weak Die
Let the weak die.
A horrific and untenable statement during a global crisis like the one we’re facing today. A horrific statement as the world unites in its fight against Covid-19. A horrific statement as governments around the world issue “stay at home” and “shelter in place” orders for the love and good of those most vulnerable to this terrible disease. And yet, the unthinkable horror of simply letting the weak die is a fairly rational conclusion for certain worldviews that lack a clear, objective moral underpinning.
For example, we might consider natural section, a key aspect of Darwinism and other naturalistic worldviews. Natural selection, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, is “the process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive.” I’m no expert in Darwinian theory, but I’ve never gleaned any kind of moral code that exists within the fabric of natural selection. It is simply part of the evolutionary chain. Those creatures who exhibit the right kind of adaptations, strength, and mental acuity are the creatures who survive. Those who do not, die. It’s simply the way that the natural world works.
There are other worldviews (whether explicitly stated or implicitly present) that have difficulty producing a clear and compelling moral foundation for the inherent value of life, love of neighbor, and care for the vulnerable. Relativism is a moving target. Consumerism and materialism lack substance. Individualism forsakes the good and prosperity of others.
This is where Christianity provides what I believe to be the most compelling case for the love of neighbor, especially in a time when human beings are working across the globe to that common end. It answers the all-important question, “Why?”. Why should we love our neighbors and demonstrate selfless, sacrificial love for other people amidst the Covid-19 pandemic?
First, Christianity provides a rich foundation for the love of neighbor in the doctrine of the image of God. Genesis 1:27 tells us that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” The image of God in human beings provides objective and inherent value for every human person regardless of their net worth, socio-economic status, or bill of health.
Christianity also provides explicit commands from the Lord Jesus himself to do good to others and love one’s neighbor. In Matthew 22, Jesus declares the greatest commandment of God’s law. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” These two remarkable commandments are inextricably linked. Our love for God is expressed in our love for people; and our love for people is evidence of our love for God.
But there’s something else that Christianity helps us to understand about the high and necessary call to love our neighbors. Namely, our failure to actually do it, at least with the level of consistency and sincerity required. We humans ought to love one another well, without condition, selflessly, and to the glory of God. But we miss that mark over and over again. And this creates quite the predicament and chord of dissonance.
But thankfully, Christianity also offers us the gospel. The story of how God himself became a human person. The story of how Jesus came to the earth, took on flesh, and fulfilled this greatest of God’s commandments in full. He embodied the love of neighbor. He had compassion on the weak and vulnerable. And he demonstrated this selfless love of others by going to cross and dying for a people eager to reject him. People like you and me.
Yet, in the richness of his grace and kindness, God offers to those same people, those same rejectors of Christ and haters of neighbor, the forgiveness of those sins through faith in that same Jesus. Even more, through a new life in Christ, God births in us new desires for the love of neighbor. And he provides us with a new set of rich gospel resources to carry out the task: a new heart and mind, new affections for Christ, a new will and desire for obedience, the indwelling Spirit of God, the communion of saints in the local church, and more.
Christianity has much to offer a world in search of a renewed zeal for the love of neighbor. And the expressions of that love will take different forms over the coming weeks and months. Making a phone call to someone particularly vulnerable and at risk. Asking the obvious question, “Do you need anything?” and being willing to respond. Growing in the ministry of prayer. Wisely and carefully cooperating with our leaders to slow the spread of this disease. Making a meal for your neighbor. Giving your children some extra attention and care even after they’ve pushed you to the brink of stay-at-home sanity.
Whatever the expression, may we be compelled by Christianity’s helpful framework for understanding why the love of neighbor is important and essential. May we be encouraged by Christianity’s clear and vibrant voice to a world searching for an increased zeal for the love for neighbor. And may we grow in our personal zeal for the ultimate expression of love for neighbor; sharing this good news with others.
With love and longing,