Only a short time ago, the Coronavirus seemed like a distant illness plaguing the opposite side of the world from the insulated life we live as Americans. Now it’s spread worldwide. Parts of New York City and many other cities across the U.S. are quarantined or closed, and many nations are restricting or banning travel in an attempt to slow the spread. Part of my wife’s job is global security, so we’ve had the television on, newspapers open, and a lot of conference calls happening over the last few weeks. It has been a constant topic in our house for what seems like a million reasons.
Amidst all of this, there are news outlets and other organizations casting blame on various governmental entities for not doing enough to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Media personalities are criticizing the President, Congress, the CDC, China and just about any other available object upon whom blame could be cast. Many of those who are most vocal in criticism are also those who have sharply criticized the government for enacting stricter immigration guidelines. Although very inconsistent and misguided in their criticisms, it does reveal a desire for justice and control. I’m not writing to add to the chorus of voices screaming for justice, but I do want to explore what is at the core of this desire for that justice and control.
Essentially, many people are screaming out, “That’s not fair!” – in the same manner a child would when his or her sibling gets a slightly larger piece of cake. There is this sense that a virus spreading around the globe in an unstoppable manner is not fair or not right. “Why can’t we stop this?” and “Why is this happening?” are questions that reveal two concepts deeply embedded into the essence of who we are:
- We want control over calamity.
- We shouldn’t be experiencing the injustice of this illness.
From where does this innate desire for control and perfection originate? I would argue that it is part of our very existence, the reason for which we were formed. Regardless of your beliefs regarding Creation and its immediate or evolutionary development, the interaction between God and earth reveals an original intended state that answers the above questions.
Genesis 1:28 records the first agreement between God and man. It was that we fill the earth and rule over it. We were placed in an idyllic environment for the purpose of expanding that environment globally. We failed. We decided that, rather than rule under the authority of God, we wanted to rule with our own authority. That’s where everything went wrong.
Control and justice are two elements of ruling over the earth. If we were created to fill and subdue the earth, then that means we also are equipped with an image of what that would look like. After Jesus, the agreement between God and man of filling and subduing means that we are welcoming everyone into our communities and seeking justice in the world. The problem is that we often decide we want justice and control apart from God. We’re in a perpetual state of reenacting the reason we got into this mess in the first place, because we want our own rule without the authority of God.
It is not the President’s fault that the coronavirus is in our nation or any other nation. It is simply the world in which we live. We should recognize that these innate desires originate from somewhere and have a purpose. The trick is to be intelligent enough to understand their origin. When we are able to recognize that our desire for justice and control are from God and they have a purpose, then we can set about making the world a better place for all through the filling and subduing he has called us to do.