What does toilet paper have in common with the virus?
I have been "staying at home" for more than a month now due to the Covid-19 pandemic and yet, still no sign of toilet paper supplies in many stores I visited. There are kitchen paper towels available but no toilet paper! What protective qualities does the toilet paper have which will protect us from the viral infection? There is nothing in common between the toilet paper and the virus, but there is a lot more overlap of meaning with human nature. I have a theory - it is called the Future Accumulation Syndrome (FAS) - human beings have an innate drive to store up what will create perceived long-term certainty. Today, it could be toilet paper, tomorrow it could be hair dyes!
What about the "store shelves" of your heart? What are you storing up during this pandemic season that will prove to be of worth to you in the future, even for eternity?
Interestingly, the Bible states that "you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgement will be revealed" (Romans 2:5). Whoa! Is the Bible stating that the long-term certainty here is God's righteous judgment? This is heavy stuff! If this is true, then according to my FAS theory, I should store up that which would give me a favorable long-term certainty - What can I store up in order to procure the certainty of peace with God? Toilet paper and hair dyes are irrelevant items in the light of the future certainty of God's righteous judgment as my Creator.
The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart.
Unless there is a change of heart, whatever I store within will eventually be corrupted by greed, selfishness and pride. It is my heart itself which is the source of unrighteousness, not what I filled it up with. According to Scripture, the heart is "more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). The pandemic of a heart alienated from the Creator of our hearts results in a multitude of malady that even the best of medical science is not able to resolve. "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man `unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean" (Matthew 15:18-20).
In this pandemic, washing hands regularly will in no way get rid of the defilement that is already present in the hearts of every human being. The bad news is that there is nothing you can do about it. The good news is also that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. How is this possible?
The Creator of our hearts
We are rebels at heart. We do not need to be taught how to do wrong, it is innate within us the bent and inclination to deviate from that which is good and righteous. "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). "Our heart is restless until it rests in You" (Augustine). God, our Creator is both holy and loving - the restlessness we feel in our hearts is a result of us having broken the law and violated God's standard of holiness.
As the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, God is the rightful owner and authority over all that He has created (including you). He has the right to expect perfection as He Himself is absolutely righteous and holy. But we are not.
The Compulsion of our hearts
The culture pushes us to "follow your heart" in order to achieve your dreams! While there is an element of truth in pursuing personal ambition, yet our heart is often a mixed bag of motivations. We want to do what is right but selfishness and pride rears its ugly head during unsuspecting moments. My heart left on its own gravitate towards the center of the universe called "Me".
Ever since the first rebellion in the Garden by Adam and Eve, the pandemic of sin has infiltrated into the hearts of every human being who had ever lived .. well, almost everyone, except for One who lived a perfect live free from this insidious internal pandemic called sin.
The Cleansing of our hearts
Every year, during the Jewish feast of the Passover, a spotless lamb is sacrificed as a substitute for the sins of the Israelites. However, this ritual is powerless to cleanse the human heart. For that, you need another human heart, another life, one who is perfect and also divine - Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
"God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." (Romans 5:8,9).There is absolutely nothing that you can do to save yourself, Jesus Christ, the perfect God-man has fully paid the penalty due to your sins.
The Communion of our hearts
The Good News does not end with the death of Christ on the cross, He rose again from the dead to conquer the final enemy of any pandemic - death itself. Jesus Christ lived that perfect life of obedience that we could not live and died the death that we should have died. And now, He is raised to new life as a guarantee for the everlasting life that we will have through Him. The blessed communion in the Garden is now restored!
There is nothing for you to do except to reach out in faith and receive the grace of forgiveness for your sins - all has been accomplished and paid for by the One who created you and loves you with an everlasting love. What you "store up " now is not God's wrath but His peace which is the best security for pandemics within and without. On second thoughts, I will revise my Future Accumulation Syndrome (FAS) to Future Assured Salvation (also FAS) - there is no need to hoard because Jesus Christ have done it ALL to rescue us from the greatest pandemic within.
Isn't this infinitely better than shelves full of toilet paper?
April 15, 2020