I recently found this online game called Pandemic II. It got me thinking about the gospel and the mission of the church…
In Pandemic II, the ultimate goal is to wipe out human civilization. You want a total death toll. It isn’t enough for you to infect a huge percentage of the population. In order to win the game, they must die. In order to accomplish this, you must pay a high price in “evolution points” in order for your disease to adapt and develop lethal symptoms such as heart failure, necrosis, encephalitis, kidney failure, and liver failure (or any combination of at least two of the aforementioned symptoms). If you can do this before a vaccine is developed, you are guaranteed that your disease will terminate all those infected by your disease.
Yeah, I know the game is morbid. But lethality, more than any of the previous facets mentioned in previous posts, must be recognized and realized if we’re to accomplish the task of spreading the gospel throughout the world.
- People are dying. All of us are born with a death sentence. All of us will die physically if Jesus waits long enough. Although estimates vary, someone dies on earth every one to two seconds. Most will die spiritually dead–in their sin, having never known Jesus. They’re dying across the ocean. They’re dying in our country. They’re dying on our street.
- People must die… to sin. Paul talks about this in Romans 6–those who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death, and are now dead to sin. They’re to no longer use their bodies as channels for sin. While each person is spiritually dead, they must die a death to sin through Jesus. Who will show and tell them if not us? God will raise up someone… and we must be part of it wherever we are, whether that be in our family and community, or if God calls us elsewhere in our state, country, or world.
- We must die… to ourselves. Jesus calls us to pick up our cross every day. Crosses aren’t for jewelry (it would be pretty insane for us to walk around with 14K gold electric chairs around our necks). Cross are for killing. To pick up our cross is to die to ourselves–our wants, desires, and expectations–and to pick up Christ’s desires. He desires people to be saved. Does this extend to our churches? I think it does. We must be ready and willing to adapt and change (short of adapting and changing the message of the gospel), to do anything short of sinning to reach people with the gospel. We should be ready for God to lead us instead of latching on to the latest trends and fads. If He leads us to use some of those things, great. If not, we should be ready to jump on His bandwagon. As I’ve heard said, we should be very wary of planting the church in our heads. Instead, we should plant the church that God leads us to plant. Sometimes it is similar. Sometimes (like in my case), it is quite different.
I still hold out very high hope that the gospel can indeed become a global spiritual pandemic–an unchangeable message that highly adaptable to any culture, that is viral and infectious, that is both highly visible in the transformation of lives and lowly visible in the way it exposes others to the love of Christ, and leads people to die to sin and thus find abundant life in Christ. Indeed, it is already making inroads all over the globe. Will we be a part of what God is doing?
And, as promised, here is the link for the game: Pandemic II. Call your disease something like “The Viral Gospel” or something like that. And please don’t play it on the job… it takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes to play in the fastest mode.