The coronavirus pandemic is generating tons of discarded PPE. This gear is often made of polypropylene plastic, which can take hundreds of years to degrade in landfills and oceans.
Enter Binish Desai, a recycling prodigy in India who at the age of sixteen founded a company that has turned textile waste into furniture and coffee grounds into plates and bowls. Now he has found a way to convert PPE into bricks. Body coverings, masks, and head caps are isolated for three days, sanitized, shredded, and sanitized again, then they’re mixed with 47 percent paper sludge and a binding agent and pressed by hand into molds. Each brick costs about four cents.
From the redemptive to the frightening: a volunteer at an animal sanctuary in Florida was hospitalized last week after a tiger almost tore her arm off. She reached into the tiger’s cage to open a door when the animal attacked her. Other volunteers worked to stop the bleeding and preserve her arm. A team member said later that the volunteer kept repeating that she felt “so stupid” for opening the gate.
The most read Bible verse this year
Bible searches have soared online during this very difficult year, with a record number of people turning to Scripture for help and hope. Searches on the YouVersion Bible App increased by 80 percent. Which verse was most read? Isaiah 41:10, which promises: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
The website BibleGateway.com also saw unusual spikes around the first COVID-19 lockdowns last spring, the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed during the summer, and the US presidential election in the fall. I believe this instinct to turn to Scripture in difficult times is prompted by the Holy Spirit. He works to convict us of sin (John 16:8) and to “guide [us] into all the truth” (John 16:13).
However, we must be willing to work with him to redeem our challenges, turning the PPE of our lives into “bricks” that can build our future and resisting the “roaring lion” who is “seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
A story that has made headlines over recent weeks illustrates the urgency of such humility.
“The crisis of Christian celebrity”
Carl Lentz, the former lead pastor of Hillsong East Coast and a personal friend of Justin Bieber and Kevin Durant, confessed to marital infidelity last month after he was fired from his position. New York Times reporter Ruth Graham published an article over the weekend describing allegations of a celebrity culture surrounding his church and its leaders.
Evangelical columnist David French responded with a very thoughtful article, “The Crisis of Christian Celebrity.” After surveying a depressing list of public moral failures among Christian leaders in recent months, he offers this hopeful note: “I’ve known a number of Christian public figures who haven’t fallen—men and women who’ve lived decades in the public eye and have lived with integrity.”
What makes them different? French explains: “While they’ve come from different backgrounds and different strands of Christian theology, they’ve typically shared two common convictions. First, they don’t trust their virtue. Second, they don’t believe they earned their fame.”
He is exactly right. Many years ago, a wise mentor taught me always to say of those in public sin, “There but for the grace of God go I.” We desperately need the strength of the Holy Spirit to live holy lives. And we need to remember daily that whatever fame we have is entrusted to us by God for his glory and the advancement of his kingdom.
There is a hidden danger, however, that Christians like you and me face every day.
How to make God’s name “great among the nations”
In a culture as secularized as ours, writing or reading an article like this one counts as spiritual achievement. It is easy for Christians who maintain a modicum of spirituality to be lulled into a sense of moral superiority over our more secular friends. The answer is to understand and embrace the standard to which our Father calls us today.
In Malachi 1, the Lord looks to a day when “from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts” (v. 11).
Note that God is most glorified when our offering is “pure.” He grieves those who “offer blind animals in sacrifice” and “those that are lame or sick” (v. 8a). He asks: “Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor?” (v. 8b). If our president or governor deserves our best, how much more does our “great King” (v. 14) who loves us, saves us, redeems us, and offers us his omnipotent best?
C. S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain: “To be a complete man means to have the passions obedient to the will and the will offered to God.” In The Great Divorce he added: “If we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”
The greatest threat to your future success
If you have not yet fallen into public sin, this fact does not mean that you will not. Perhaps Satan is waiting for you to climb even higher on the ladder of success so that your fall will be even more damaging for you and those below. Your confidence in yourself based on your past success is the greatest threat to your future success.
There are only two kinds of Christians: those who fall into moral failure and those who take proactive steps of humility to keep from joining them.
Which are you?
NOTE: For more, see my latest video, “What does the Bible say about humility?“