Whitney Houston is going on tour.
According to Guinness World Records, Houston is the most honored female singer of all time, with more than four hundred awards. Most of us can play some of her iconic songs in our minds right now. Her death in 2012 at the age of forty-eight was tragic.
Her estate is now sponsoring An Evening with Whitney, a holographic concert that features a digital recreation of the artist, supported by a live band, singing her greatest hits and bantering with the audience. The tour began last night in Sheffield, UK, and will continue throughout Europe.
CDC warns Americans to prepare for coronavirus outbreak
These days, it’s hard to separate reality from the appearance of reality.
The CDC warned Americans yesterday to brace for a likely outbreak of the coronavirus in this country. Public health officials have no idea whether the spread of the disease in the US would be mild or severe, so they are asking us to be ready for a significant disruption to our daily lives. They do, however, hope that the virus is seasonal like the flu, subsiding in the summer.
The Dow fell another 879 points yesterday on fears that the coronavirus would continue to affect global markets and supply chains. On the other hand, technological advances are speeding up the process of developing a vaccine for the virus. Technology also enables us to avoid social environments by working at home, ordering groceries remotely, and educating our children online.
Warren Buffett said this week that the outbreak has “not changed” his long-term optimistic outlook on stock. He added that lower stocks constitute a greater buying opportunity for long-term investors.
While no one, not even Warren Buffett, knows the financial future, we do know this about the present: many of us are facing significant stress these days. In fact, according to Gallup, Americans are among the most stressed people in the world.
For instance, the Wall Street Journal reports on a growing trend whereby companies are bringing mental-health professionals into the workplace to offer on-site counseling for their employees. One employee admits, “We are all terrified. We are all struggling. If we don’t talk about it, it can ruin our lives.”
“Living to God rather than to myself”
Yesterday, we discussed a worldview that is competing with the biblical narrative regarding original and personal sin. In this secular view, our culture is dominated by “hierarchies and power structures built around race, class, gender, sexual identity and so on.” We must advocate for abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, and euthanasia rights as if they were civil rights for racial minorities. Struggling against societal oppression of the victimized is the key to progress, or so we’re told.
This secular worldview depends, of course, on humans successfully improving humanity. In this sense, it is akin to world religions with their prescriptions for advancement. Jews seek to observe their 613 laws; Muslims live by the Five Pillars of Islam; Buddhists are guided by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path; Hindus seek to obey ascetic laws and practices.
By contrast, Christianity uniquely claims that humans cannot change human nature. Unlike the victimization narrative that constitutes “original sin” in the secular worldview, the Bible teaches that the “original sin” is our desire to be our own god (Genesis 3:5).
In The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis describes this first sin as “the turning from God to self.” This is a temptation for us all: “The mere existence of a self—the mere fact that we call it ‘me’—includes, from the first, the danger of self-idolatry. Since I am I, I must make an act of self-surrender, however small or however easy, in living to God rather than to myself.”
The Fall that resulted affects every dimension of human experience (cf. Romans 8:22–24). As a result, we all need forgiveness we cannot earn and transformation we cannot achieve.
“God is an endless ocean of love”
Scientists may develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, but we will all die of something (unless Jesus returns first), then stand before God in judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Economists may develop ways of responding to a health pandemic, but this world, no matter how prosperous it becomes, “is passing away along with its desires” (1 John 2:17). We may find ways to reduce stress at work, but the old saying is still true: “No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.”
The foundational solution to victimization in society is spiritual regeneration that leads us to view all people as our brothers and sisters in Christ (cf. Galatians 3:28). Jesus’ warning is also his invitation: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).
In this context, Craig Denison writes: “God is an endless ocean of love, help, healing, and power. The Holy Spirit who dwells within you longs to empower you with everything you need to truly live in the fullness of life available to you. If you will choose to lay down your life in surrender to God’s plans, purposes, truth, and perfect will, you will experience a life unlike anything you’ve known.”
As a result, he notes: “You and I are only truly living to the degree that we’ve surrendered our lives to Jesus.”
Are you “truly living” today?